It has been a tough time for Kodi users recently with a whole host of popular add-ons and repositories being taken down after coming under legal pressure from copyright holders. The latest to bite the dust is the hugely popular Illuminati Repository.
For those not familiar with Illuminati, their Kodi repository was home to a huge range of unofficial Kodi add-ons including some of the best and most innovate designs out there. It also hosted a large number of Kodi builds, many of which they had designed themselves.
Illuminati had built a large following for its repository and also on social media. However, as a number of the add-ons they offered did enable users to access copyright content, the Illuminati team were always treading a thin line and when the end came, it was swift.
ACE shuts down Illuminati
Last week, Team Illuminati announced on Twitter that their entire team had received legal letters from ACE and would, therefore, be shutting down both their Twitter account and repository the following day.
ACE is the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), an anti-piracy coalition which includes some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry including Netflix, Amazon, the BBC, and all the major Hollywood movie studios.
ACE has been at the forefront of the recent legal purge of Kodi which has seen scores of add-ons and repositories taken down. Usually, such shutdowns are not directly attributed to ACE, with many people suspecting that ACE forces Kodi developers into a non-disclosure agreement if they want to avoid stronger legal actions.
Other recent developers to be taken offline include Blamo and UrbanKingz, with ACE believed to have played a role in both cases.
However, Team Illuminati have confirmed that their demise is as a direct result of the legal pressure of ACE. The details of what the letters from ACE to Team Illuminati contained is not known. But, other such letters have been leaked online.
Ace’s legally dubious cease and desist approach
The KodiTips website has posted the contents of a cease and desist letter onto their website. According to them, the letters detail the add-ons which ACE deem to “provide unlawful access to protected copyrighted works, including works owned by, or exclusively licensed to [our members]”.
Included with this letter is a settlement agreement which all recipients are required to sign. This includes a detailed acknowledgement of wrongdoing.
There are a number of question marks over the legality of these agreements. They do not acknowledge that just about every Kodi add-ons direct users to content hosted elsewhere and do not host any copyrighted content themselves. No mention of these content sources is made at all in the letters.
The agreement also includes no specific threat of legal penalties the recipient could incur as a result of developing their add-ons. They simply state that if the agreement is not signed, ACE may take further legal action.
This could imply that ACE is not confident of the legal grounds for sending these cease and desist letters. But to date, they are yet to be challenged in court.
You may wonder why so many big name Kodi developers are giving up in the face of such legally dubious letters. The fact is that in US legal matters, money matters most. ACE is made up of companies with deep pockets and few developers can afford to take them on in court, even if they feel they could win the case.
Illuminati has gone but the Kodi community lives on
The nature of unofficial Kodi add-ons is that when one developer disappears, there is always another to step into their shoes and although ACE has managed to shut down plenty of add-ons and repositories, there are still no shortage of new ones which still enable Kodi users to access copyrighted content if they choose to.
Illuminati will be missed, but their absence simply creates an opportunity for a new repository to step into their shoes.
What the case of Illuminati should serve is to remind Kodi users of the very real risks they are taking by using unofficial Kodi add-ons and accessing copyrighted content.
It is not just Kodi developers who have fallen victim to legal challenges as a result of their Kodi habits. No shortage of Kodi users have received legal letters too. Some have even faced further repercussions such as fines or their ISP cutting their internet connection.
This is why a VPN is now an essential tool for all Kodi users. When you connect to a VPN, such as ExpressVPN or IPVanish, all of your data is encrypted and your real identity is hidden behind the IP Address of your VPNs servers.
This protects users from potential legal repercussions and enables them to use Kodi with confidence.
To learn more, take a look at our guide to the best VPN for Kodi 2018.