Downloading pirated copies of movies, music, and television shows has always constituted copyright infringement, but streaming the same content was previously a legal grey area. Now the EU Court of Justice has ruled on the matter. The full statement from the Court can be downloaded here.
The roling was made in a case brought by the Dutch anti-piracy organisation Brein, against the selers of the ‘fully-loaded’ Kodi STB called Filmspeler (Movieplayer).
The court said that “In the present case and having regard, in particular, to the content of the advertising of the multimedia player and to the fact that the main attraction of that player for potential purchasers is the pre-installation of the add-ons concerned, the Court finds that the purchaser of such a player accesses a free and unauthorised offer of protected works deliberately and in full knowledge of the circumstances.”
The ruling will now make it possible to sue sellers of so-called ‘fully-leaded’ Kodi boxes, who offer access to illegal streaming services for a monthly or yearly fee.
Kodi is legal, it is a neutral, open-source media player that can be installed on a broad range of devices, from set-top boxes powered by Android, to known brands, such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Because of this illegal use of Kodi software, Kodi has for some become synonymous with piracy. The Kodi development team has now issued a statement about this ruling: “The team is, frankly, quite pleased with this decision. As we’ve said in the past, pirate box sellers are a real problem for users, because they provide users with constantly breaking messes, vanish, and then expect Team Kodi to provide support to users who are confused about what Kodi is, where their “free movies” are coming from, and all of the issues related to this problem. We don’t have any problem with users setting up their boxes however they want. We just want them to actually know what they are getting themselves into when doing so.
“We are also not particularly worried by this decision. There are definitely some slippery slope arguments to be made about what can constitute a “communication to the public” in the future, but the court seems to have made it quite clear in its ruling that they view Kodi itself as something akin to Firefox or the internet, perfectly legal, while the links/add-ons specifically are the illegal IP.”
In a related development, research by Sandvine has shown that in the US 70% of all installed Kodi software is used to access illegal streams and on-demand content, and that the sellers of ‘fully-loaded’ Kodi STBS profit most.