You may recall the article I recently did about the legality of Kodi boxes. Well, it looks like while I was working on that article, Amazon and Netflix were putting the finishing touches on their lawsuit to take down a major retailer of Kodi boxes. This is just one more development in the battle between content producers and online streams.
Tickbox TV is an American retailer that provides users with branded Android set top boxes which are loaded with programs capable of circumventing legal streaming avenues. Basically, they rebrand a Chinese-built Android box with their own name, load up Kodi and some popular addons, then package it all together very nicely to sell at a profit. There is really no difference in what Tickbox TV does from the Android boxes you can buy and set up yourself. They use nice marketing and do all the leg work for users to cut out some steps for people who want a plug and play solution.
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In my previous article I touched on the many issues surrounding these so-called Kodi boxes. If you don’t have the time to go back and read it all, let me sum it up quickly. The three groups at issue here are end users like you and me who use Kodi as well as available addons to access streams. Depending on your geographic location, these streams may be considered legal or illegal. Then there are the addons themselves. Some addons have been served with legal papers and other have shut down to avoid that possibility. Recently, the creator of TVAddons, a repository for downloading popular Kodi addons, was sued in Canada by the largest broadcasting companies in the country. Finally, there are the people selling and programming these boxes for end users. This is the category where Tickbox TV fits and we have seen legal action against other sellers in Canada and Europe for selling Kodi boxes that are advertised as being able to access free TV and movies.
Based on the legal complaints filed over the last year or so, it appears content creators like Amazon and Netflix are taking a top-down approach to stopping what they see as illegal streaming. Going after each individual user is difficult and time consuming. A much more effective way for these companies to stop the growth of streaming like this is to stop the sellers of pre-programmed Android boxes and creators of addons.
In the legal complaint against Tickbox TV, it is alleged that the device is nothing more than a tool for copyright infringement. In their defense, Tickbox TV claims that they simply provide access to other sources where content is hosted but they do not host or provide content themselves. This is unlikely to be a successful legal defense. We have seen countless peer to peer sharing services try to make the same argument and fail. I know that comparisons of digital crimes to real world crimes are not always great but let me try here… A car can be used for plenty of nefarious purposes like as a getaway car in a bank robbery, for example. Of course, no manufacturer advertises their car to be used in such a way. When you buy a car you get the car and that’s it. If they sold cars with a complimentary getaway driver, black ski masks, weapons, and empty bags with dollar signs printed on them then you could argue that there is a “wink wink, nudge nudge” kind of scenario happening here where the car salesman is encouraging, even supporting, a bank robbery. These Android boxes and the Kodi software itself are both completely legal. There are plenty of legal ways to use these devices. However, things change when someone pre-programs the box with every Kodi addon that is able to stream free movies and television shows with marketing that claims you can get rid of your cable bill or enjoy movies before they’re released for home viewing.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in court but, if I was a betting man, I would say Tickbox TV is in for a pretty bad time. They would have to successfully convince a judge or jury that their boxes were never intended to be used for illegal streaming. One look at their marketing suggests otherwise. The decision could have a major effect on other sellers of these popular Kodi boxes. If they decide to stop doing business based on this court case then Netflix and Amazon may successfully shut down dozens of pre-programmed Android box sellers with a single lawsuit. Pretty good bang for your buck.
As for you as an end user; it doesn’t appear the content providers are coming after you… Yet. There may come a time when content providers decide to test legal action against individual end users. Until then, you are likely safe to continue streaming using Kodi addons. If you are concerned about legal action then I recommend getting a router with a built-in VPN or sticking to the legal methods of streaming. After all, companies like Amazon and Netflix have to make money in order to keep creating new content. If everyone streams for free then there won’t be any new content to enjoy.