This week, news began to filter through that the shutdown of a pair of Kodi add-on related resources had taken place under serious legal pressure.
KodiUKTV and OneNation weren’t specific in their announcements but TorrentFreak was able to confirm that the Federation Against Copyright Theft was behind both actions. Indeed, the anti-piracy group told us that other groups were targeted too but at this stage, we haven’t been able to identify them.
What we do know is at the end of October, FACT sent out cease and desist notices titled ‘Unauthorized Distribution of Film, Television and Sport Subject to Copyright’.
The letters stated that FACT investigators had established that the platforms were “providing or facilitating access without authorization, to broadcasts or premium pay channels” containing content belonging to Sky, BT Sport, and The Premier League.
Demanding an immediate end to “unlawful activity”, the notices added that “all infringing links, listings and information from webpages, social media and any other medium” should be permanently removed. If not, a criminal investigation might get underway.
A recipient of one of the cease-and-desist letters, Matt – founder of KodiUKTV – told us that if he’d have received a simple takedown notice at any point in the past, he would’ve been happy to investigate and take action if any add-on breached copyright. Instead, it appears that FACT went for straight for the jugular.
Part of the problem for Matt, at least from our discussions, is that he doesn’t believe he was doing anything wrong. His platform didn’t develop or host any add-ons but offered a tool so that Kodi users could download and install them from elsewhere.
“Ultimately it was at the risk of the add-on designers and end-users, should such add-ons contain possibly infringing content that we had absolutely no control over,” he explains.
Matt says that he contacted FACT within an hour of receiving their cease-and-desist notice with a request for more information. He also gave FACT a commitment that the site will not deal with add-ons or builds in the future. At the time of writing, he is yet to receive a response.
As a result and at least for now, his entire site remains down, which Matt feels is both disproportionate and frustrating since much of the content the site offered (guides etc) had nothing to do with any of the companies mentioned by FACT.
“We didn’t actually host anything for the add-on guys and we don’t make any add-ons ourselves. We just offered a place for people to put their add-ons to be installed by the end-user, which is very common for many repos,” Matt explains.
“This means we were just a hub for the community for help and guides. This was always my key focus for KODIUKTV – creating guides & voicing our opinion on issues within the community to help others.
“We do not want to kiss goodbye to the website and the community we have been so involved in over the past five years. We are hoping we can continue the website on a publication standpoint and move forward.”
The site was founded by Matt in 2014 after he found himself “tinkering” with XBMC (as Kodi was formerly known) on a Raspberry Pi, installing add-ons, and eventually coming up with a ‘build’
“I’ve always been interested in publications & running a media site. So once the community started to rise we needed a home for our guides and tutorials, our news, and even the odd giveaway over the years,” he explains.
“We grew at a rapid rate which gave me and the team a huge learning curve of what it took to manage and maintain a website/project of this size. We became the go-to for people looking for help.”
At KodiUKTV’s peak last year, Matt says it was receiving around eight million users per month, a figure that’s dropped a little this year to a still-impressive six million.
But with this growth has come problems, not only in respect of FACT and its clients, but with various claims against the site’s social media accounts, and even strikes against Matt’s personal pages that had nothing to do with the project. Now, however, he is hopeful that things can move forward.
Matt says he’s just a hobbyist doing what he loves, one that also cares about freedom on the Internet. He has no desire to get into a fight with big media companies and hopes this dispute with FACT can be dealt with quickly while keeping the community intact.