he team behind Kodi, which may very well be the most popular media player software out there, has pledged to keep the software open source in the wake of the new ruling from the European Union. As the EU Court of Justice has chewed on a case regarding video streaming and set-top boxes used to watch video streams, some have been concerned about how it would impact Kodi.
As it turns out though, the makers of Kodi don’t even have a real problem with anything in the ruling, so the fallout from the ruling looks to be quite small, at least where the media center software is concerned.
Two angles of the piracy ruling
The Kodi team weighed in on the EU piracy ruling in a blog post, although they emphasized that the post is just their opinion and they aren’t lawyers. As they noted, there are two main takeaways from the ruling. The first is the sale of pirate boxes or “fully loaded” streaming box that comes preinstalled with links to view copyrighted content.
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The EU court ruled that selling such boxes does constitute a “communication to the public” of copyrighted content, which means it counts as a violation of the copyright on the content. The makers of Kodi offered an excellent explanation of what this means by comparing it to selling tickets to a movie one does not have the right to show. Essentially, people who sell a multimedia box which contains links to copyrighted content that the buyer might watch have violated the copyrights on the linked content because they have essentially sold “tickets” to the content.
Pleased with the ruling
The Kodi team described themselves as being “quite pleased” with this ruling because people who sell pirate boxes “provide users with constantly breaking messes, vanish, and then expect Team Kodi to provide support to users who are confused about what Kodi is, where their ‘free movies’ are coming from, and all of the issues related to this problem.”
The team then clarified that they don’t have any problem with people setting up their boxes however they want. Their issue is with people who sell boxes preloaded with their open source software and links to pirated content. Essentially, they want people to know what they’re getting.
They also noted that the ruling expressly states that the court sees Kodi as being like a browser such as Chrome or Firefox, or even the broader internet. In general, they are legal to use, but it is possible to use them as a vehicle for illegal activities such as streaming pirated content.
Pirated video streams are also violations of copyright
The other main takeaway from the ruling is that streams of video that have been pirated are also a violation of copyright in the European Union, they explained. However, they reiterated their neutral stance on streaming, clarifying that they’re software developers and not police officers and hence “have no interest in acting as police for our own software.”
They emphasized that Kodi is a tool they develop for people to use however they want to use it, but they clarify that those who wish to break the law using it should leave them out of it.