Federal Court in Canada Rules that TV Boxes With KODI Aren’t Intrinsically Pirate Enablers

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated August 17, 2021

The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has ruled that TV boxes cannot be banned from being sold on Canada’s large retail shops on grounds of them being piracy-enablers because this concerns only a small portion. As such, the court dismissed Allarco’s request for a permanent injunction after determining that the plaintiff could not provide sufficient evidence that buyers of these boxes engaged in activities that constitute a violation of the Copyright Act. And finally, the court has found that none of the units sold by official retailers came pre-configured with pirate software.

In September 2019, Allarco Entertainment Inc. filed a lawsuit against Staples Canada Inc., Best Buy Canada Ltd., Canada Computers Inc., London Drugs Ltd., as well as 50,000 of their customers, accusing them of selling piracy-enabling TV boxes on their stores. According to the details included in the official complaint, several employees working on four of Canada’s biggest retailers were actively promoting these Android-based set-top boxes to all customers interested in streaming, and the company even produced 100 hours of secret video and audio recordings as proof.

As it seems, though, there was no evidence to prove that there has been anyone leaving a shop with a TV box that was configured specifically to access illegal streaming services. The fact that some employees working in these shops offered advice on how to do it does not constitute a violation per se, so the recordings didn’t offer anything to support Allarco’s case. In fact, the court found that configuring these boxes for piracy would require various steps, time, and knowledge to do it, so it’s not that these products are easy to abuse.

Continuing the bashing, the judge criticizes Allarco’s produced evidence as mathematically misleading, as it would be false to extrapolate the extent of piracy tipping that goes on in the retail shops based on ad hoc investigative techniques. In simple words, entering a shop and asking how you can use a device to pirate content isn’t a representative scenario.

On the matter of KODI and the fact that the app was preinstalled on some of the sold boxes, the judge ruled that KODI is just a neutral media player application that is not intrinsically illegal. KODI can be abused for piracy by using third-party add-ons that fetch streams from pirate websites, but none of the TV boxes sold by the Canadian retailers had such add-ons preinstalled.

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