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EFF raises concerns over Kodi lawsuits attacking open source

Kodi has become infamous in the past few years, rising to prominence through the abuse of its open source platform via the inclusion of illicit applications brought about by third-party developers. This has raised concerns in The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in which it wants a properly placed definition surrounding the legality of what is otherwise a perfectly legal platform.

Developments in an ongoing court case last week led to a man changing his plea to guilty after being accused of selling piracy enabled Kodi set top boxes, reports the GazetteLive. At the time, his original plea of not guilty was because everyone was indulging in the practice, and that the concern lay with the software, not the box itself.

“These boxes are available from all over the place, not just me, but it's the downloading of software to watch channels that is apparently causing the problem,” said accused Brian Thompson. “If I am found guilty and the court rules that I am breaking the law selling these boxes, I want to know what that means for people buying and selling mobile phones or laptops because the software is available for all of them.”

With Thompson’s sentence coming this month, the EFF sees his case along with many others as an attack on the streaming media box community, with Hollywood and the likes actively crushing open source software.

“We've seen this in the appearance of streaming media boxes as an enforcement priority in . . . lawsuits that have been brought on both sides of the Atlantic to address the “problem” that media boxes running Kodi, like any Web browser, can be used to access media streams that were not authorized by the copyright holder,” states the EFF.

“The difficulty facing the titans of TV is that since neither those who sell Kodi boxes, nor those who write or host add-ons for the software, are engaging in any unauthorized copying by doing so, cases targeting these parties have to rely on other legal theories.”

In a bid to protect the open source platform, the EFF urges people and the courts to acknowledge the control that Hollywood has and the gravity of the actions held against Kodi boxes, which it perpetuates is innocent software.

“These lawsuits by big TV incumbents seem to have a few goals: to expand the scope of secondary copyright infringement yet again, to force major Kodi add-on distributors off of the Internet, and to smear and discourage open source, freely configurable media players by focusing on the few bad actors in that ecosystem,” it added. “The courts should reject these expansions of copyright liability, and TV networks should not target neutral platforms and technologies for abusive lawsuits.”

KitGuru Says: While I can appreciate the comparison with browsers having the same accessibility, a more accurate metaphor would be comparing the selling of piracy-enabled Kodi boxes to that of downloading a browser with active and working sites already bookmarked so that the user has to do little to no leg work to infringe on copyright. Whereas Kodi is an innocent platform, of course some of the applications it can house are not and using those as a marketing point to sell your set top boxes is questionably wrong.

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