The foundation behind the Kodi media player has announced that it plans to target those who contribute to its association with piracy and copyright infringement with legal action.
The announcement comes amid a wave of bad press for the media player which has seen people facing big fines for selling so-called ‘pre-loaded’ Kodi boxes (which have add-ons installed which facilitate copyright infringement).
The European Courts have also recently ruled such boxes illegal under their copyright laws, while in the UK, the Premier League has also won a court ruling which allows it to require ISPs to shut down illegal streams on Kodi devices.
Kodi’s growing popularity
Over the same period, the popularity of Kodi has grown immensely. This is, at least in part, because of the ease with which the software allows users to manage multiple media sources through a single media player and the fact that it can be used on such devices as Amazon Fire TV Sticks and Smart TVs.
But it is unquestionably also at least partially down the available of a myriad of different add-ons which when downloaded allow users to access pretty much any media stream anywhere. Most of these are perfectly legal, but there are a few which do appear to break copyright laws and it is these which are making all the negative headlines for Kodi.
Kodi itself is just a media player and perfectly legal to download and use. But their brand is being tarnished nonetheless and many regular users, as well as the authorities, often struggle to differentiate Kodi from its unauthorised add-ons.
Illegal add-ons causing problem for Kodi
The President of the XBMC Foundation, Nathan Betzen, explained that these unauthorised add-ons and those that are selling ‘pre-loaded’ Kodi boxes are causing them serious problems.
“These sellers are dragging users into the world of piracy without their knowledge and at the same time convincing new users that Kodi is a buggy mess because they never differentiate Kodi from 3rd party add-ons,” Betzen explained.
But it seems that Kodi has now decided that enough is enough. The XBMC Foundation, which on the Kodi trademarks, has decided that it is going to start pursuing legal action against anyone who uses the Kodi trademark without permission.
This is something that they have said publicly they want to do before, back in 2014. But since then, the issue has grown massively and seems the XBMC Foundation have finally decided to draw a line in the sand.
Those who are selling ‘pre-loaded’ boxes are a key target, but they are not alone. Even those who are making YouTube videos about Kodi add-ons are on the radar as well, as Betzen explained.
“If you are making a video in which you claim to be a Kodi developer or Kodi team member or you are just using the Kodi name while assuring users that some pirate add-on is totally legal and isn’t going to break next week, we will do everything we can to take you down… We are tired of a thousand different salesmen and Youtubers making money off ruining our name.”
It seems then that they are very serious this time. But it won’t be an easy task and the XBMC Foundation knows this. By taking on such a wide-ranging target, they are setting themselves a very hard, perhaps impossible task.
Kodi’s ‘call to arms’
Which is why they are looking to the Kodi community to help them. They have issued a ‘Call to Arms’ asking users to help them root out those who are taking the Kodi name in vain.
“If you see somebody selling a box that’s ‘fully loaded’ or comes with the phrase ‘Free movies and TV with Kodi,’ please, ask them to stop. And let us know…. It is not OK to sell a fully loaded Kodi box… “If you see a Youtuber using the Kodi logo as part of his channel, constantly marketing Kodi as a source of free movies, ask him to stop pretending to be us and dragging our name through the muck. And, of course, let us know.”
It is a noble request and no doubt there will be plenty who take Kodi up on their request. But many more will not because, rightly or wrongly, one of the big appeals of Kodi is the broad range of content that can be legally, and illegally, accessed. And whilst it remains a piece of open-source software, that doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon.