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Russian Digital Ministry Proposes Compulsory Licensing of Foreign Software, Reports Say

CC0 / / Computer
Computer - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.12.2022
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Russian Digital Ministry is discussing with market actors a bill that will allow for compulsory licensing of software of companies that have left Russia and "decriminalize" the illegal use of foreign software in the country, a Russian newspaper reported on Thursday, citing sources.
According to the letter from Dmitry Nikitin, the head of the IT Industry Development Department of the Digital Ministry, the foreign software usage needs regulation because of developers’ withdrawal from Russia. The government is working on special conditions for foreign software, as it is impossible for Russian users to fulfill existing treaty obligations, the newspaper reported.
The Digital Ministry is discussing with market actors a bill that "decriminalizes" the illegal use of foreign software and launches a mechanism for its compulsory licensing. It is expected that Russian clients will transfer payment to a special account, and funds will be transferred to right holders on demand, sources told the newspaper.
The prospects for compulsory software licensing are being discussed by representatives of IT associations and the Digital Ministry. On December 28 Deputy Minister Maxim Parshin noted that the initiative "is being worked out in a closed mode from the market", because it is "a separate bill”, the newspaper said, citing sources.
Industry experts’ opinions on the new initiative were divided. Pavel Kalyakin, CEO of MyOffice, a Russian IT company that develops secure office solutions for communication and collaborative work, believes that the "decriminalization" of the illegal use of software will significantly slow down the pace of software import substitution and cause damage to the entire Russian IT market, Kommersant reported.
At the same time, the board director of Russian software operating system developer BaseALT, Alexey Smirnov, believes that the measure is necessary, but it should be finalized. "It is logical to establish a double payment for software, in which 50% of the funds will go to a special account, and another 50% to support Russian developers," Smirnov was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
After Russia launched the special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, the domestic IT industry faced a number of challenges. Most of the major Western vendors have left the Russian market. Among the manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and software that left the Russian market were Cisco, SAP, Oracle, IBM, Nokia and Ericsson. Major technology manufacturers Samsung and Apple also suspended deliveries of their products to Russia in March.
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