Open-source media player Kodi is to take action against rogue sellers who modify the software, installing broken piracy add-ons, advertising that Kodi allows the user to watch free movies and TV, and then vanishing when the user buys the box and finds out that the add-on they were sold on was “a crummy, constantly breaking mess” according to Kodi Project Manager Nathan Betzen.
Writing in the Kodi Blog, he says that over the past few years it’s become clear that many users have been watching pirated content using unofficial and unsupported add-ons that frequently break, and they are installing add-on repositories whose trustworthiness is questionable, leaving themselves open to numerous security exploits.
As Kodi is open source software, and as long as the General Public Licence is followed, users are welcome to do with it as they like. “So while we don’t love this use of Kodi, as long as you know what illegal and potentially dangerous things you are getting yourself into and accept the fact that the Team will not be providing you with any support, then you are welcome to do what you like,” he says.
He suggests that the rogue 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 third party add-ons. “Every day a new user shows up on the Kodi forum, totally unaware that the free movies they’re watching have been pirated and surprised to discover that Kodi itself isn’t providing those movies,” he notes, adding that there are even more people out there seeking to make a quick buck by selling ads on videos about getting free movies and TV while using Kodi in their channel name to make their content seem official, as if those videos are coming from Kodi.
“Team Kodi is officially tired of this,” he declares. “We are tired of new users coming into the forum, asking why the box that ‘we’ sold them was broken. We are tired of this endless campaign by dishonest salesmen to push a single use of Kodi that nobody on the team actually recommends. We are tired of these salesmen lying to users, claiming that pirate streams and pirate boxes are ‘legal’ when they are absolutely not at some level or other. We are tired of being told by companies that they don’t want to work with us, because we are selling pirate boxes. Being removed from an App Store this summer because of the campaigning of others was like a slap in the face. Most of all, we are tired of a thousand different salesmen and YouTubers making money off ruining our name,” he adds.
“Our solution to this problem is pretty straightforward. We now own the trademark to Kodi, and we plan to use it to finally battle the mass confusion created by those seeking to profit on unaware users. This means we will issue trademark takedown notices anywhere we think the likelihood for confusion is high. If you are selling a box on your website designed to trick users into thinking broken add-ons come from us and work perfectly, so you can make a buck, we’re going to do everything we can to stop you. 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,” he warns.
In a plea to the Kodi developer community, he says: “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’s OK to sell a vanilla Kodi box. It’s OK to sell a fully-loaded box that doesn’t have Kodi installed or fully rebrands Kodi to something else entirely. 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. Who knows, maybe the YouTuber has no idea that he or she is causing so many problems and a conversation might solve them.”
“We love making Kodi. We love working on a free, open source software that’s the best media center on the planet, able to do things no other media center can do. And we want to keep making Kodi better, every single day. But every day our name gets dragged through the mud, we are in danger of losing developers and losing the freedom to make Kodi great. We want to make Kodi for as long as there ever is a need. Help us keep going,” he asks.