The European Court of Justice has ruled that selling streaming boxes pre-loaded with software specifically configured to facilitate access to pirated content is illegal. The case specifically involved Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN and local online store Filmspeler.nl, but is expected to have far-reaching repercussions across the EU for businesses selling piracy-enabled set top boxes.
Filmspeler is one of many services selling Android-based set-top boxes equipped with software like Kodi. While Kodi is a neutral open-source platform that isn’t ilegal by itself, many add-ons are publicly available from third parties to deliver pirated sports, TV and movie streams.
Filmspeler owner Jack Frederik Wullems had argued that it had no involvement in the development of such add-ons and that they were already publicly available. However, the court found that Wullems knowingly added infringing add-ons to Kodi devices, with hyperlinks to content published by known ‘pirate’ sites, and further advertised the players as ways to watch content without paying.
Furthermore it said that “it cannot be disputed that the multimedia player is supplied with a view to making a profit” by offering direct access to protected works without the consent of the copyright holders.
The Filmspeler case will now head back to the Dutch court where the lawsuit was originally filed for a definitive ruling. This is expected to set a precedent for other European courts and have an immediate effect on pending cases involving the sale of pirate boxes and illicit streaming.