Kodi: 'Infringers' should be targeted by law enforcement, not software itself, say tech firms

Kodi must not be blamed for piracy, an organisation representing major companies including Netflix, Facebook and Amazon has warned.

Instead, “infringers themselves” need to be targeted by law enforcement, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) says. 

Kodi is free, open-source software that’s completely legal, but is being widely used for illegal purposes.

Criminals are making it much easier to watch TV shows, films and sports fixtures illegally, by pre-loading media players with Kodi and a number of third-party add-ons that provide free access to copyrighted content, and selling them. It’s also possible to do this yourself, but the process isn’t completely straightforward.

The CCIA comments were prompted by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), reports TorrentFreak, which recently labelled Kodi as a “global threat”.

“An emerging global threat is streaming piracy which is enabled by piracy devices preloaded with software to illicitly stream movies and television programming and a burgeoning ecosystem of infringing add-ons,” it told the US Trade Representative earlier this month.

“The most popular software is an open source media player software, Kodi. Although Kodi is not itself unlawful, and does not host or link to unlicensed content, it can be easily configured to direct consumers toward unlicensed films and television shows.”

In response to the MPAA’s submission, the CCIA reiterated that Kodi is legitimate software, which can be used for both lawful and unlawful purposes.

“Unscrupulous vendors selling general-purpose devices preloaded with software whose function is to infringe content or circumvent technological protection measures (TPMs) are an appropriate target for enforcement activities,” it wrote.

“These enforcement activities should focus on the infringers themselves, however, not a general-purpose technology, such as an operating system for set-top boxes, which may be used in both lawful and unlawful ways.”

According to a report from the Intellectual Property Office, so-called “Kodi boxes” are making it tougher to tackle piracy

Kodi has taken a lot of criticism for this over recent months, despite repeatedly tearing into sites and repositories that promote the use of these illegal add-ons.

The CCIA has called for the people making and selling Kodi boxes to be punished, rather than the Kodi Foundation itself. 

“The offering of devices modified to infringe, or with the clear aim of intentionally inducing infringement, may well violate local copyright laws, where the copyright law of the jurisdiction in question prohibits TPM circumvention or inducement,” its letter continues. 

“In these cases USTR should take care to differentiate between lawful open-source technology and a minority of users and businesses who employ that technology for infringement.”

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