You might not be familiar with Kodi, but chances are you are familiar with streaming video applications. Thanks to devices such as the Amazon Fire TV, the Roku and the new Tickbox, people are able to steam video content from a variety of sources on to their televisions.
No one is too concerned about the Roku or the Amazon box, as they work with content licencees and producers to offer content that is 100% legal and fully paid for.
Other devices, such as the Tickbox and its many variants, are in a bit more of a gray area. These devices run an open source piece of software called Kodi that is, on its face, a media player application.
Kodi allows third-party plugins that can help users locate video content on the Internet, and that is what has people alarmed.
The Tickbox, for example, can be used to find just about any kind of programming out there, from sports to newly-released movies that are still in the theaters to the latest episodes of popular television programs.
That has a lot of studios and networks concerned, as people are buying these devices and using it to watch copyrighted material to which they shouldn’t legally have access.
The matter has been made a bit more complicated as studies have shown that some of these “boxes” that are using the Kodi application may constitute a fire hazard.
It’s not Kodi that’s drawing the wrath of studios, however. It’s the developers of the third-party plugins, with names such as URL Resolver, DeathStreams, Covenant and Bennu.
Several developers of these plugins have received threatening letters from movie studios, and the developer of URL Resolver received on that said, in part:
“This letter is addressed to you by companies of the six-major United States film studios represented by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), namely Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., Disney Enterprises, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corporation, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios LLLP and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Netflix, Inc. and Amazon Studios LLC (represented by MPA via the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE)), Sky UK Limited, and The Football Association Premier League Limited…”
Many of these developers are individuals, and they have limited legal resources to fight potential lawsuits from major film studios.
On the other hand, many of these developers are individuals, and individuals can often create and release software anonymously, which can make it quite difficult for the studios and their lawyers to track down the responsible parties.
It’s possible that the development team at Kodi could find a way to block the installation of third-party plugins that are not authorized by the company, but for now, there’s a bit of cat and mouse going on.
A number of plugin developers have announced that they will no longer be developing any gray-area plugins for the Kodi platform. That doesn’t mean that others won’t step in with either plugins of their own or modifications of existing ones.
Of course, the threats of potential fire should be enough to scare away potential customers for the boxes, but you never know.