The sale of piracy-configured media boxes is now illegal, rules European Court of Justice

About a week ago, Kodi, makers of the eponymous open source media player software, stated they were planning on including "low-level DRM support". This particular move was considered in light of people using set-top boxes with the app installed and appropriate add-ons which allowed them to stream pirated content. Seems like today's European Court of Justice ruling might just become a bit of an obstacle in the pirates' way.

In essence, TorrentFreak reveals that the European institution has transferred into law that the sale of media players (or rather, media boxes) which have been pre-configured to be able to stream pirated content and then sold to customers is now illegal.

The ruling is based on a case from 2015, in which Dutch retailer Filmspeler was found to have sold pre-configured Kodi "pirate boxes" to customers. In their defense, the owners stated that selling such devices does not constitute "communication to the public" under Article 3(1) of European Directive 2001/29, is not a breach of the copyright law, and therefore not illegal. The ECJ however, disagrees, as is obvious in the statement about this newest ruling:

It is common ground that the sale of the ‘filmerspeler’ multimedia player was made in full knowledge of the fact that the add-ons containing hyperlinks pre-installed on that player gave access to works published illegally on the internet [...]

In addition, it cannot be disputed that the multimedia player is supplied with a view to making a profit, the price for the multimedia player being paid in particular to obtain direct access to protected works available on streaming websites without the consent of the copyright holders.

Therefore, it is necessary to hold that the sale of such a multimedia player constitutes a ‘communication to the public’, within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29.

In a decision which will no doubt have a big impact on all of the EU member states, the ECJ also outlines that reproduction of copyrighted content may only be exempt from reproduction rights if it meets all of these conditions simultaneously:

  • the act is temporary;
  • it is transient or incidental;
  • it is an integral and essential part of a technological process;
  • the sole purpose of that process is to enable a transmission in a network between third parties by an intermediary or a lawful use of a work or protected subject matter; and
  • that act does not have any independent economic significance.

Since streaming of pirated content does not meet any of these conditions, simultaneously or otherwise, it's now considered illegal.

The Filmspeler case will now be handed over to the Dutch courts for the final decision, but nevertheless, it will set a precedent for similar cases surrounding pirate boxes or illegal streaming.

For those of you who are curious, the entire ruling can be read at this link.

Source: TorrentFreak

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