Kodi® is a downloadable, open source software media player that is compatible with TVs, computers, smartphones and video game systems. It allows users to access their content from local and network storage and stream it on any device. Originally designed in 2004 for Microsoft’s Xbox (when it was known as XBMC™), Kodi’s open-source nature quickly attracted pirates and hackers seeking to distributed unauthorized content. Today, there is a thriving black market of add-ons and apps which give free access to subscription services.
Pirates have flooded marketplaces with ‘fully-loaded’ Kodi boxes promising access to premium content. Consumers often buy into this promise without knowing that content they are getting is unauthorized and pirated, exposing themselves to security threats and costing rights holders millions of dollars.
Kodi itself is not doing anything illegal and the developers are not too thrilled that Kodi’s name is being linked to piracy by the actions of a few hackers. Earlier this year the Kodi team registered ‘Kodi’ as a trademark and has threatened to start issuing takedown notices for misuse of their name. The website clearly states: “The watching or listening of illegal or pirated content which would otherwise need to be paid for is not endorsed or approved by Team Kodi.”
Content owners and broadcasters need to stay on top of this trend include Kodi in their anti-piracy monitoring program. We recommend using technology that searches through Kodi streams to identify any that is linked to pirated content. Since Kodi is just another channel to deliver streams to users, identifying and enforcing on the actual stream is the best remediation tactic.
Kodi is the latest in the long line of technologies being exploited by fraudsters and pirates. Staying ahead of the many new ways pirated content is being shared is the real challenge for media companies.