2020 UPDATE: You CAN be sued for using bittorrent-based Kodi Add-ons!
I almost fell off my chair when I read this. Kodi users are being sued for copyright infringement?!? The answer is yes, Kodi users who are tweaking the Kodi software to run Kodi Add-ons which provide copyrighted movies using peer-to-peer (P2P) or bittorrent are 100% at risk of getting sued for copyright infringement. “Click to Tweet!“
Didn’t I write many articles saying that Kodi users wouldn’t get sued?
Yes. I have been watching this topic for YEARS now on whether it is possible for someone streaming movies to get caught — not in the context of Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons, but in general. Until recently, the answer was “no, the copyright trolls have not yet caught up with technology, and there is no way a person will get sued for streaming movies.”
Today I change my opinion, but as you’ll read, I do so cheaply because the cause of getting caught using Kodi is the fault of Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons developers who incorporated bittorrent into their plug-ins.
My opinions over the years on whether you can get sued for Kodi use have changed.
2015 – “No, you CANNOT get sued streaming videos.”
Jumping back a bit, the first time I wrote about the possibility of internet users getting caught streaming was in October, 2015. Fresh in the mind of the internet was the Ashley Madison hack exposing millions of internet users who had an account on their “let’s cheat” website. The topic of whether it was possible to have your adult film viewing habits exposed to the public was fresh on the minds of internet users.
My opinion back then was that “you likely CANNOT get caught streaming adult films.” Then in 11/2015, I was asked whether an internet user can get caught viewing “You Tube” like videos, and my opinion was, “maybe, but it likely would not happen because there are too many steps.”
2017 – “It’s possible to get sued, but the technology needs to advance and the trolls are still stuck on bittorrent lawsuits.”
Jumping ahead to 3/2017, I was searching for a common copyright troll behind each of the movie lawsuits, and I wrote a quick article entitled, “Can I Get Caught Streaming Movies Over The Internet?” My point of this article was to say, “yeah, it is possible, but unlikely that someone would get caught streaming movies,” parroting my 11/2015 article.
As a response, a viewer asked me to analyze Kodi and the Amazon TV Fire Sticks, and again in 3/2017, I wrote a second article on Why I would NOT put Kodi on an Amazon Fire TV Stick.
At the time, I was still of the opinion of “you likely won’t get caught, but beware of Amazon turning you in.”[Again, this opinion had nothing to do with the Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons, as I did not suspect any developer would create Kodi Add-ons which connected to the bittorrent networks. That would have been silly, and any developer that knew anything about piracy lawsuits wouldn’t be reckless enough to expose their users to the bittorrent networks.]
Then in 4/2017, the Pornhub lawsuits happened, and thinking about the lawsuit (and the way the plaintiffs went about it all wrong), it occurred to me that Google Analytics could expose an internet user to a copyright infringement lawsuit. This was possibly the first time I had the opinion that “yes, in the future, you can get sued for streaming movie content.” Again, in the future when technology advanced further and copyright trolls moved past bittorrent lawsuits.
2020 UPDATE: I focused most of my articles on Google Analytics because they seemed to be the best way to track which internet user visited which website. I did not consider that in 2020, copyright trolls would use CloudFlare to expose the identity of accused internet users. This is what is behind the YTS fiasco and Kerry Culpepper of Culpepper IP sending subpoenas to disclose the identity of internet users (so that he can ask for $1,000 per alleged download as a settlement). [Click to Tweet.]
* 9/16/2020 UPDATE *: Kerry Culpepper appears to have since hired Attorney Joshua Lee of Culpepper IP. It is Joshua Lee’s name that is appearing on the settlement demand letters, not Kerry Culpepper’s name.
In 5/2017, I applied this line of thought to write an update on the risks of using Kodi on an Amazon Fire TV stick, and I wrote that “there is another way to get sued using Kodi on an Amazon Fire TV Stick — via Google Analytics.” So while my answer was now “yes, you can get caught,” my thought was “just block the Google Analytics plug-in and you don’t need to worry about this.” As far as copyright trolls suing Kodi users based on these revelations, well, this was far into the future. Once again, no mention of Kodi Add-ons.
What changed? Kodi developers started using Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons without telling their users.
What I did not anticipate is that there are a number of Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons which use bittorrent to provide copyrighted content to their users. Obviously if certain Kodi Add-ons are using bittorrent — and the assumption is that the Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons user is using Kodi without a VPN — then YES! Someone using Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons which connect to streamed content via “peer-to-peer (P2P)” bittorrent networks can certainly get caught!
Why using Kodi Bittorrent Addons can be the same as using a bittorrent client
Let’s simplify this.
If you use Kodi with a VPN connection, and the Kodi Addons plug-in that you enable provides content to you via bittorrent, *THEN YOUR KODI SOFTWARE IS NOTHING OTHER THAN YET ANOTHER BITTORRENT APPLICATION*.
What this means is that when your Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons connect to the bittorrent, it is *YOUR* IP address that shows up in the bittorrent swarm. Thus, when the copyright troll or their so-called “investigators” download the list of IP addresses who have downloaded a particular movie, your IP address will show up.
At that point you have been caught downloading or streaming the copyrighted movie without a license, and you should not be surprised if you receive a subpoena notice from your ISP informing you that you have been implicated as a John Doe defendant in a copyright infringement lawsuit.
It really does not matter that you were using Kodi, because using Kodi with Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons which download movies for you using bittorrent is the SAME as you downloading that same movie from The Pirate Bay using a bittorrent client.
Which Kodi Add-ons use bittorrent?
So, the next question is… which Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons use bittorrent? (Kudos to Sam Cook, my source for this information. If anyone knows of others, please feel free to add them to the comments below this article, and I will update this list.)
As of a few months ago, the following Kodi Addons use bittorrent:
- Popcorn Time
- Ace Stream
- P2P Streams
- Red Beard
NOTE: Why some of these Kodi Addons might no longer exist
My thoughts: Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons recently suffered a huge loss after a large number of them shut down in response to a few prominent lawsuits. Thus, these addons I pasted here from Sam Cook’s article possibly no longer exist.
SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO NOT TO GET SUED USING KODI
NOTE: Obviously using Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons to stream movies or copyrighted content was not why Kodi exists. However, for the purpose of this article, assume you are tweaking Kodi to stream movies.
Before you use one of the Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons, check to see whether it uses bittorrent or some form of P2P to download content for its users. In this article, I keep referring to the add-ons which use bittorrent as “Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons,” but as you see from the list above [all of which use bittorrent], *NONE* of them identified themselves as a “bittorrent add-on.” Assuming you will be using Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons for the purpose of acquiring or viewing copyrighted movies without a license (again, not my recommendation), avoid these plug-ins and any plug-ins which connect you unwittingly to bittorrent networks. [Click to Tweet!]
Advice from a Kodi reddit user:
Generally speaking, if the setup or configuration of an add-on requires you to make significant changes to your environment, it’s probably to support p2p. If the setup installs and then starts showing you sources to stream from immediately without having to add/configure a bunch of extra crap, it’s just direct streaming from a web source and has no p2p/upload component to it. The only 2 I’ve seen that are “recommended” by certain people and are p2p are sopcast and acestream. anything else just blatantly calls itself “bit torrent stream” or “best torrent addon” or “p2p streams” which should all be no-go’s if you don’t already have experience masking your location.
My Opinion: Kodi Add-Ons can get you sued.
In sum, back to Kodi itself. It is no longer my opinion that you cannot get sued for using Kodi. If you are using one of the many Kodi Bittorrent Add-ons which connect a user to copyrighted content using bittorrent — whether you are aware of it or not –, then of course you can get sued. The reason for this is bittorrent exposes the IP address of the user who is not masking their IP address with a VPN. Personally, it is careless for programmers to make Kodi addons which use bittorrent, which is not what the Kodi software was meant to do.[One last time… Please “Click to Tweet!” This will help share this information with others who can benefit from it.]
KODI LAWSUIT ARTICLES:
“GOT WARNING LETTER FOR USING KODI?” written on 7/20/2017 by The VPN Guru
“Kodi BAN – Kodi Add-On users panic over WARNING letter from US Department of Justice” written on 4/8/2017 by Express
“P2P Kodi Addons – 2017 Updates for Kodi Users” written on 3/28/2017
“Who’s behind the Kodi TV streaming stick crackdown?” written on 2/8/2017 by The Register
“Comcast Starts Issuing Copyright Infringement Notices to Kodi Users” written on 10/21/2015 by Cord Cutters News
[CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: If you have a question for an attorney about a Kodi copyright case and options on how to proceed (even specifically for your circumstances), you can e-mail us at info[at]cashmanlawfirm.com, you can set up a free and confidential phone consultation to speak to us about your Kodi copyright lawsuit, or you can call us at 713-364-3476 (this is our Cashman Law Firm, PLLC’s number].
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