What is a Kodi Video Streaming Set-top Box and Why is it in Legal Soup?

Fully loaded Kodi video streaming set top box

If you’ve never heard of Kodi, the open source video streaming set top box that is making news waves, you could be forgiven. Developed by volunteers, the project was originally called the Xbox Media Centre (XBMC) and it essentially added a streaming media player to Xbox consoles. As of now, however, it can be installed on PCs as well as smartphones. What it does is stream freely available content from the internet right into your console so you can use it like you would your Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV. In fact, you can even load it into those devices for additional content.

But there’s a problem, and it’s this “additional content” that’s causing legal issues. The creators of the software underneath the hood of Kodi was designed to play purchased media or free internet content, but the software can be tweaked to accept third party add-ons that stream pirated content. And that’s why Kodi is under the microscope. Actually, not Kodi itself, but retailers who sell the Kodi box with the piracy add-ons.

Most retailers sell the version without the add-ons, but some are advertising a “fully loaded” version, for which they are taking flak. Trader Brian Thompson of Middlesbrough is one such retailer accused of selling hardware that “facilitated the circumvention of copyright protection measures.”

Although Thompson says he will challenge the charges in court, it brings up a major question about copyright infringement and the ethicality of open source software tools for video streaming. Open source, by its very name, means code is shared publicly. You can never stop people from doing illegal things with open source. So who is ultimately to blame? And why is an individual retailer being singled out when so many of them sell “fully loaded” Kodi versions?

The developers of the Kodi project are saying that they take a “neutral stance on what users do with their own software”, that they do not support the “piracy add-ons”, and would “battle” those who try to sell a “fully-loaded Kodi box” with the Kodi trademark. It’s not clear at this point how they will engage with and “battle” retailers pushing the software with the piracy add-ons, but they’ve started by deleting posts about piracy add-ons and pirated content from their message boards.

The court is expected to set a trial date for the Thompson case today, Tuesday Sep 27.

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Article Source: BBC

Featured Image: overtheairdigitaltv