There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of sites offering either illegal sports streams viewable via embedded players or indexes of links to the same. It is these resources that were leveraged by SportsDevil, a piece of open source software popular in the various XBMC/Kodi and TVMC communities.
Under development at Github, SportsDevil’s aim is to present its tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of users with links to external video sources via a convenient interface, covering everything from live NFL, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey and motorsports, combat sports such as UFC and boxing, plus football and soccer from both sides of the Atlantic.
This week, however, SportsDevil’s reign on Github was brought to an end following action from UK-based anti-piracy group Federation Against Copyright Theft. While FACT is closely affiliated with Hollywood studios, it also represents the rights of major sports broadcasters and rightsholders including The Premier League, British Sky Broadcasting Ltd and BT Sport.
In its takedown notice, FACT explains what SportsDevil does and why it should be taken down.
“The files found at the following locations facilitate linking to sites known to provide access to streams of infringing content. The sites are subsequently scraped for links to various broadcasts including those whose copyrights belong to FACT members,” the group explains.
In addition to the ZIP files for the project, FACT targeted 47 configuration files enabling SportsDevil to pull links to content from sites such as FirstRowSports, Wiziwig.tv and Cricfree, a site that was targeted by PIPCU earlier this year.
TorrentFreak contacted FACT about the takedown and asked if this was the first piece of software to be taken down by the group.
“This is not the first time and with development of technology, we don’t anticipate it will be the last,” FACT told TF.
We also put it to FACT that although it’s pretty clear what SportDevil is designed to do, the tool itself is often far removed from actual infringing content and could be several steps down the linking chain. Does that present issues?
“That’s the point of what we’re doing. The tool is creating alternative ways of accessing content, and we view that as a likely offense,” FACT said.
Also of interest is the formatting of FACT’s takedown notice, which references neither UK law where its members are based nor US law where Github is located.
“Our takedown notices are modeled on DMCA notices. In this particular case, they were adapted to comply with Github DMCA policy,” FACT confirmed.
It’s worth noting that Github recently updated its takedown processes to give projects more time to ‘fix’ any issues following a DMCA complaint but it appears SportsDevil’s creators didn’t take up that opportunity.
TF spoke with an expert on this type of software who told us that while its removal from Github will be a setback, it won’t mean the end of the tool.
“If an addon’s repository is removed from GitHub, the addon author loses the ability to push further updates to the addon, so unless users install the author’s new repository (which they would have to do manually) further automated updates won’t take place,” he explained.
Finally, we asked FACT if it intends to target more software tools in future.
“Where we see a threat to our members’ content, we’ll continue to seek appropriate ways of dealing with it,” FACT conclude.