Authorities across the world are increasingly taking action over Kodi media streaming hardware which is being sold on eBay and other sites. These boxes are pre-loaded with Kodi and a set of plugins that allow users to watch live video or movies and TV shows, all without paying a penny.
Kodi is a free and open source media streamer with a long history. It started life as Xbox Media Centre or XBMC, and was designed as a way to get video playback on your original generation Xbox. As time has passed though the software has opened up to more plugins and has been used as a platform to watch copyrighted material without paying.
Kodi has even managed to find itself being covered in the mainstream press as the sale of devices which are described as “Kodi fully loaded”. These boxes are designed to appeal to the mass market and feature a pretty standard piece of network streaming hardware with Kodi installed. Included with this will be a set of plugins that allow you to watch content like live sports, as well as pretty much every TV programme ever made, and all without paying more than the initial cost of the box.
Increasingly though sellers of these boxes are running into legal problems. The EU now requires that box sellers verify that the software provided on the boxes they sell doesn’t infringe on the copyright of others. And you may now be aware that the government has sought much harsher punishments for copyright infringers.
And US satellite broadcaster Dish Network is now seeking $150,000 per infringement, which would make the liability for any box seller become fairly massive. For many doing this the financial rewards just aren’t significant enough to risk such stiff penalties. For most of the plugin authors there’s no real money to be made here, and like most forms of copyright infringement it’s about user convenience more than it is about depriving any business of money.
For example, it’s a lot easier to tap a couple of buttons on a Kodi box than it is to get your West Wing DVD box set out and play an episode. It’s nicer to have all your favourite shows in one interface than to have to jump from Netflix to Amazon Prime to iTunes. And what’s more, streaming services don’t universally run on every type of streamer.
As always though, the fight to stop people selling boxes doesn’t really address the issues. These plugins often use files stored on the cloud. These are hosted on Dropbox, Google Drive or other similar services and shutting them down is next to impossible. It sends a message of course, but the problem won’t go away.