Charles Rivkin, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has warned US trade representatives of what he describes as an emerging global threat of streaming piracy which is enabled by piracy devices preloaded with software to illicitly stream movies and television programming, posing a “significant and evolving challenge”.
In formal comments submitted to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) on the world’s most notorious markets for content theft, Rivkin said: “An emerging global threat is streaming piracy which is enabled by piracy devices preloaded with software to illicitly stream movies and television programming and a burgeoning ecosystem of infringing add-ons. The most popular software is an open source media player software, Kodi. Although Kodi is not itself unlawful, and does not host or link to unlicensed content, it can be easily configured to direct consumers toward unlicensed films and television shows,” he advised.
“Websites enable one-click installation of modified software onto set-top boxes or other Internet-connected devices. This modified software taps into an ecosystem of infringing content add-ons and portals to illicitly stream movies and television programming live or ‘on demand’, he noted.
“There are more than 750 websites offering infringing devices or software. Moreover, vendors online and in malls, markets and trade shows market ‘fully loaded’ devices that are preconfigured to access unlicensed content, further reducing the complexity of accessing pirated works. The rapid growth of this problem is startling – six per cent of North American households have a device with Kodi software configured to access pirated content and of the 38 million active Kodi users globally, 26 million use piracy add-on repository tvaddons.ag. Tvaddons.ag is currently offline,” he added.
In the filing, Rivkin noted that the American film and television industry contributes significantly to the US economy, supporting two million American jobs and registering a positive services trade surplus of $13.3 billion (€11.3bn). “This economic activity is increasingly linked to the legal digital marketplace for creative content, which now consists of more than 460 unique platforms and services across the globe,” he advised. “However, online content theft undermines the economic success of film and television, threatens the livelihoods of millions of creators, and harms consumers by spreading viruses and malware,” he warned, suggesting that, in particular, streaming device piracy poses a significant and evolving challenge.