Your favourite Kodi addon makers may find themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit, if comments made by Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) CEO Charles Rivkin are anything to go by.
In an interview with international media business news site World Screen, former US diplomat Rivkin talked about the effects that rights holders joining forces under the ACE (Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment) have had on shutting down pirate sites already, as well as plans for the future.
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“[ACE] is already the premier global effort to reduce piracy. For example, we shut down a pirate website called 123Movies, which was out of Hanoi, where about 80 million illegal downloads a month were taking place…
“We were able to win in court against pirate operators called TickBox and Dragon Box, and they represent a new threat: the internet streaming devices, the ISDs, that are basically devices that can be purchased completely legally but when loaded with illegal software, can do enormous damage to content.”
ACE won $25 million in piracy damages from TickBox late in 2018, while Dragon Box was forced to halt sales of its set-top boxes in January this year.
By ISDs, Rivkin here is of course talking about Kodi boxes, small set-top boxes running the Kodi media player, software which is in itself perfectly legal. When Kodi is “fully loaded” with the right addons, it’s then very simple to access streams of pirated content over an internet connection and watch that on your TV.
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Since the European Court of Justice has banned the sale of Kodi boxes in 2017, fully loaded or otherwise, a number of people in the UK have been handed prison sentences. Before that in 2012, the MPAA wasted little time in serving the UK’s biggest ISPs with High Court orders, forcing them to block access to sites found to be hosting or pointing users towards stolen content.
While pursuing legal action in the UK will have some effect, Rivkin says that as sites, vendors and merchants can operate virtually anywhere in the world with an active internet connection, then efforts to curtail piracy will take on a global dimension.
“I mentioned the takedown in Hanoi of that site, but that site can be accessed from anywhere on the planet. So yes, you have to go for the source, but the use of the stolen material can occur anywhere. It’s a global fight; you can’t solve it in one country and think that you’re done.”
As of now, ACE has 33 members, including big names like Warner Bros., NBCUniversal and Disney, streaming service operators Netflix and Amazon, and broadcasters like the BBC, Sky, and the Canal+ Group.
By joining forces, smaller content creators without the financial means to launch expensive cease-and-desist operations, will be able to lean on the resources of bigger, deeper-pocketed organisations.
“I was speaking to some broadcasters in Paris who said that piracy can be as big as their entire bottom line. And the impact on entertainment companies is huge, so this is a top priority for us,” Rivkin said, after talking of plans to develop “a highly sophisticated hub-and-spokes system for our global team”.
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It may be hard to gauge the effectiveness of ACE over the coming months – file-sharing news site TorrentFreak reports that settlement agreements may contain gag orders, which prohibits people hosting Kodi extensions or running illegal streaming sites from even talking to anybody but their lawyers about shutdown requests.
It might be that very soon you’ll only be able to use Kodi for its intended, official, purposes.
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