Developers of Kodi add-ons, including those who maintain places to download them (repositories), have long been at risk of legal action, should they provide access to infringing content.
Many have been targeted directly, having received cease-and-desist letters from groups including the massive Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE). Until recently, action through the civil courts has been the assumed course of action for rightsholders but that changed with the news that police in the UK became involved.
As per our report published yesterday, the Covert Development and Disruption Team of the UK’s North West Regional Organised Crime Unit recently arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of developing and maintaining an add-on designed to facilitate access to infringing content.
Nobody has yet been able to publicly verify the precise target but on the same day the arrest took place, the popular Supremacy repository (repo) went down in mysterious yet coincidental circumstances. During the past few hours, news of the arrest appears to have prompted other developers to rethink their futures.
Given its popularity, Kodi add-on enthusiasts will be disappointed to hear that the Exodus-forked 13 Clowns add-on is one of the casualties. The end of the add-on was announced via Twitter and also in a slightly unorthodox fashion, via the Kodi software itself.
Rather than take the associated repo down, the developer pushed an update which reportedly disabled the add-on and delivered a shutdown message.
The Maverick TV add-on also disappeared last evening. No disabling ‘update’ of the add-on appears to have been pushed but the associated repository was deleted. That was followed by an announcement on Twitter which indicated the show is over.
Another casualty is the Exodus-forked Overeasy add-on. That tool was previously available from the Eggman repo but both have gone down, with the latter currently displaying an empty directory.
Some of the now-discontinued repos also contained add-ons in addition to their own, so the full fallout may not be known for a while. Some add-ons will find new homes but others may yet decide to throw in the towel.
It’s important to note that none of the above cited the arrest as a reason for closure but again, in common with the disappearance of the Supremacy repo, there are a number of coincidences that appear to fit recent developments.
Whatever the reasons for the closures, having an organized crime unit become involved in taking down a Kodi add-on developer is a massive escalation in the UK and will certainly prompt pause for thought among those in a similar position.