When you think of Russia and intellectual property, what springs to mind?

The chances are that what you thought of is actually the opposite of the current IP headlines out of that part of the world, as the country takes major brands to task over their advertising on piracy sites. Household names like Microsoft, State Farm, and Ford are all on Russia’s hit list, in an uncomfortable reversal of roles for a nation that is largely criticized by the US as a haven for piracy sites.

As strange as it may seem, both positions are tenable.

For all of its IP sins, including frequent appearances on the MPAA’s Most Notorious Markets list and being the suspected home to some very unsavory sites, Russia has been┬ámaking a lot of noise about the steps it is taking to fight piracy. These include blocking access to major piracy facilitators like The Pirate Bay and increased scrutiny of VKontakte, the region’s largest social network and, at times, a hive of unlicensed content sharing.

That’s not to say that those sources have been wiped out as a threat in the Russian market, but the drive to curb copyright infringement from the governmental level is almost always welcomed by western creators.

This assumes that the intention is genuine and not mere grandstanding, however, and it’s fair to say President Putin and co. are more commonly associated with the latter. Many of the brands highlighted on the list advocated by Ministry of Communications representative Alexei Volin are American names. In an initiative that Volin says will strip some of these “white-and-fluffy” brands of their pristine reputation, it’s easy to detect a hint of the wider political gulf between the two nations. Both have made attempts to discredit the other’s position on major global issues in recent months, so it isn’t a stretch to imagine that trickling down into other areas of governance.

Even against that backdrop, it would be premature – irresponsible, even – to discount Russia’s anti-piracy efforts out of hand. As we saw with the announcement from TAG and GroupM last week, ad-supported piracy is something that major organizations and agencies around the world are taking seriously. The damage done to brands that associate with copyright infringement and the types of site that engage in it is a crucial consideration. This is especially true as more and more ad money moves online, and the ad formats available become more refined.

The bottom line? When brands spend big bucks on spreading their message far and wide, they want to make sure that they appear in the best possible light to customers. A site plagued with malware and set up to steal the work of others does the exact opposite of that.

Even if Russia is engaged in a wider war of words with the United States, creators in both countries and beyond can benefit from moves that block piracy sites or cut off their funding. Talk of naming and shaming major US brands may not sit comfortably with all Americans, especially considering the source, but those same names can quickly sign up to TAG-approved ad networks if they want to mitigate that risk.

Looked at through the lens of curbing copyright infringement, Russia could, in this case, prove the old adage that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” at least in the near-term.