back to article Who's behind the Kodi TV streaming stick crackdown?

Pay TV and other copyright industries are pinning their hopes that new prosecutions of “Kodi USB stick” sellers will thwart what they call an “epidemic” of streaming piracy. Last year, a wave of arrests were made in Teesside and Birmingham in England, with Middlesbrough shopkeeper Brian Thompson of Cut Price Tomo’s TV likely …

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  1. Known Hero

    Said it before, will say it again

    Please provide us a streaming service we can pay for that doesn't involve rolling libraries or fucking about with what is allowed where.

    Spotify has proven the model works even if not perfect.....

    1. Paul 25

      Re: Said it before, will say it again

      Oh god this.

      We have Amazon Prime and while it's a nice to have addon for a service I'd pay for anyway (Prime delivery is really useful for me), I can't imagine paying much for just the streaming service.

      The film library is pretty rubbish, with lot so of random holes, and a total absence of good older material.

      The music industry, on the other hand, have nailed it with Spotify/Amazon Music etc. I happily pay more per month than I ever used to for music on CD because if I want to listen to it I can pretty much guarentee it will be there. It's very rare for me to not find what I'm looking for there.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Said it before, will say it again

      Amazon, Netflix, Google Play, iTunes, Hulu, and HBO Now are some that immediately spring to mind. Have you had your blinkers on for the past few years?

      1. GaileF0rce

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        Sorry but Known Hero is absolutely right. Pick any of those streaming services you mention and then go and try to find a particular movie or television show. You can't. You have to subscribe to them all because the rights are all over the place.

        At least in the old days, you could watch all your sport on Sky and get all your movies from Blockbuster.

      2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        Amazon have random holes in the library, Netflix is much better but nowhere near as good as spotify. No idea about the rest, but what he's saying is that a Spotify for TV ( all programmes ) was available, he'd buy it, so would I.

        A dozen subscriptions to a dozen services not quite covering everything you want isn't the same thing.

        1. Ian 55

          "Netflix is much better"

          I have more films on DVD than Netflix has available to view in the UK. Netflix had, when I last looked, six Italian films. I have more than that from several individual Italian directors.

          It's embarrassing, in more ways than one.

      3. Lunatik

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        Did you not see mention of 'rolling libraries' and region lockouts?

        Imagine Spotify randomly added and took off albums every week, with only a tiny subset of what should be available streaming at any one time? Imagine knowing that you could stream Artist X in Germany and Sweden, but not here?

        I'm another in the 'happily paying £100/yr for streaming that I never spent on CDs before' and I also pay for Neflix and Amazon Prime, but with far less satisfaction. It's no coincidence that as soon as streaming services became viable the rationale behind torrents etc. just fell away.

        Yes, the music industry had a head start in that rights were already consolidated in large part to a small number of organisations, but this isn't a moon shot. The TV/film industry needs to keep moving towards the same kind of goal otherwise things like Kodi will keep popping up.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          Well I don't know where you are, but where I am songs suddenly turn grey in my Spotify playlists (only happens if you set it that way in settings, otherwise they just disappear and you probably wouldn't notice), entire albums disappear, and there are region lockouts too.

      4. Reue

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        And yet you'd need ALL of those to then still only be able to access 10% of what you can get through Kodi streams.

        1. John Lilburne Silver badge

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          "then still only be able to access 10% of what you can get through Kodi streams."

          There simply isn't enough time in the day to watch the 10% never mind the other 90%. The entire argument that I can't get X on service Y is bullshit. That you can't get steak and chips from a vegetarian restaurant, isn't an excuse to sneak into the local steakhouse and raid their freezers.

          1. Uffish

            Re: Raid the local steakhouse freezers...

            I would if they had bought up the exclusive right to sell steak in their area.

          2. Sooty

            Re: Said it before, will say it again

            There simply isn't enough time in the day to watch the 10% never mind the other 90%. The entire argument that I can't get X on service Y is bullshit. That you can't get steak and chips from a vegetarian restaurant, isn't an excuse to sneak into the local steakhouse and raid their freezers.

            it depends on what you want to watch, I'ev only recently installed the plugins into Kodi to do this, but I've used it for a long time to stream from my NAS.

            The other night I was reminded of an old film from the early 90's, looked up the name on imbd from the actor I remembered, searched and hit play, I was watching it a few minutes after the reminder.

            There isn't a legal service in existence that provides this level of service and this wide range of content. No-one is suggesting you'll watch 100% of the content, or even 10% but if the specific thing you do want to watch is at your fingertips, from the moment you decide you want to watch it, that is incredible service.

            Some of these films aren't even available on dvd/blu-ray! You want to watch the original starwars without all the cgi crap added to it, and you want to watch it now. you can!

            1. John Lilburne Silver badge

              Re: Said it before, will say it again

              "f the specific thing you do want to watch is at your fingertips, from the moment you decide you want to watch it, that is incredible service."

              Spoilt self-entitled brat.

              1. Rattus Rattus

                Re: "Spoilt self-entitled brat"

                Yes, that is an incredibly accurate description of film and TV distributors. Which is why they're still shooting themselves in the foot clinging to an obsolete business model.

                1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

                  Re: Re: "Spoilt self-entitled brat"

                  That was very true ten years ago, and I used to read your comment everywhere ten years ago.

                  Since then, they've changed business model, by unbundling content from hardware, and doing OTT with cheap subscriptions.

                  But you're still clinging to the same comment.

                  Sad!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Said it before, will say it again

              "Some of these films aren't even available on dvd/blu-ray! You want to watch the original starwars without all the cgi crap added to it, and you want to watch it now. you can!"

              Blame that on rights clash at the time between Fox and Disney (Fox had the rights to the films but Disney owns Lucasfilm who has rights to the franchise--note that Fox had no say in the films since RoTJ; it was complicated). Since Disney bought out the Fox film library, that obstacle's been removed.

        2. 40k slimez

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          And its highly likely that those services won't work on those self same android boxes as they are rooted, which is a real PITA when you'r trying to watch stuff legally.

      5. GingerOne

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        "Amazon, Netflix, Google Play, iTunes, Hulu, and HBO Now are some that immediately spring to mind. Have you had your blinkers on for the past few years?"

        And they all have exclusive content that you can't legally get on the other services.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          "And they all have exclusive content that you can't legally get on the other services."

          Because NONE of them want to share. To them, sharing is surrendering. They want to conquer and become the Apple of the TV world. For them, the game's still afoot and most of them are still in the running, so there's no reason for olive branches at the moment.

          1. Mephistro Silver badge

            Re: Said it before, will say it again (@ AC)

            "For them, the game's still afoot and most of them are still in the running, so there's no reason for olive branches at the moment."

            On the other hand, till media companies find a way to collaborate, illegal Kody sticks will retain the Maillot Jaune in the foreseeable future. Oh, closely followed by torrents. And file hosting services. And the Dark Net. And Sneakernet. And...

            How was that story about a lad trying to plug holes in a levee in the Netherlands?

            If they don't find soon a way to collaborate and share their content, when they finally do it, it may be too late.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Said it before, will say it again (@ AC)

              "On the other hand, till media companies find a way to collaborate, illegal Kody sticks will retain the Maillot Jaune in the foreseeable future. Oh, closely followed by torrents. And file hosting services. And the Dark Net. And Sneakernet. And..."

              And frankly, while they bitch and moan because it's a cost they want to control, considering the networks are still up and running and still fishing out for new shows, I wonder if it's really eating seriously into their revenues. After all, they ultimately have to answer to owners and investors.

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          "Amazon, Netflix, Google Play, iTunes, Hulu, and HBO Now are some that immediately spring to mind. Have you had your blinkers on for the past few years?"

          And they all have exclusive content that you can't legally get on the other services.

          This, 100 x this.

          I'm quite happy to pay for streaming services, but what's lacking is a Spotify equivalent, where almost everything you could want is on one service, rather than being spread across multiple services that all cost.

          I've got Prime, and there's not much left on it that's of interest - either because I've already watched it, or because it wasn't of interest in the first place. Netflix I've stopped because, aside from the odd Netflix only series, there just isn't enough on there to justify the added cost (Prime at least gets me the delivery benefits etc).

          That's before we even start to think about services that might not be willing to accept subscribers where I am.

          Conversely, I could just hop over to TPB and *everything* is there. I'd happily pay for that level of legal choice, but there's still no way to do so.

          The app used to watch a service needs to have reasonable requirements too, take the BBC Iplayer app and the bundle of Adobe shit it requires (or required? Haven't checked in a while). I get that they want to protect their content, but it's taking the piss.

          Like someone else said, they need to stop whinging about illegal services and put some more thought into why their still so damned popular for Movies/TV despite apparently having seen a relative decline in Music torrenting with the advent of services like Spotify.

          1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

            Re: Said it before, will say it again

            But .. but.. you want them to compete on content and quality! and abuse of market share!

      6. fattybacon

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        I tried to sign up for this HBO Now and Hulu, they look great! Oh, and Crackle, that looks handy too.... oh wait... what does this $ symbol mean... oh... still Crackle is free.... oh.... not available in your country.

      7. JLV Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        AFAIK Amazon.com doesn't stream stuff to Canada and we're stuck with that stultifying dried-up hellhole that is Amazon.ca.

        Ditto with mp3 purchases on it btw.

    3. John Lilburne Silver badge

      Re: Said it before, will say it again

      Spotify doesn't have a working business model. It is currently $1B in debt to investment bankers, is losing money monthly, and can't service its existing debt. Periodically it runs to ask the US government to make the bands that create its products cut the price.

    4. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Said it before, will say it again

      Or maybe support your DVD outlets so they can make a profit.

      Netflix reduces its film content because it isn't popular enough to warrant the bandwidth usage. Our last local DVD rental shop closed recently. I don't have streaming services included on my broadband plan and the cap isn't large enough to stream, so I have zero ways to get your content.

      So I don't.

      So you get no cash from me.

      Stop whinging about illegal systems, they are not the fault.

      1. Known Hero

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        @P Lee

        Your quite right, I retract my previous statement, as you are unwilling/unable to receive or pay for broadband that will support streaming I now change my statement to "Tough Luck everybody this one dude can't get it so nobody can"

        p.s. I'm not whining about the illegal systems, I think they are great !! I just want a legal version that I can pay for so artists writers film crews etc etc etc can get their money that they deserve.

        1. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          "I just want a legal version that I can pay for so artists writers film crews etc etc etc can get their money that they deserve."

          You might want that, I'd quite like it too however the majority would still use kodi because it's free, the majority of people dont give a fuck about content creators as long as they get to save £20 watching a streamed cam of whatever latest release they want to watch tonight.

        2. Alumoi

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          I just want a legal version that I can pay for so artists writers film crews etc etc etc can get their money that they deserve.

          Hmm, are you saying that Netflix & all pay the 'artists, writers, film crews etc etc etc' what they deserver? May I interest you in this bridge I have to sell?

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        All of the above responses to post #1 are just whiney bitching and justification for your kodi boxes.

        If you dont like the offer you dont have to task it - that dosent give you the right to pirate

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          If you dont like the offer you dont have to task it - that dosent give you the right to pirate

          Entirely correct. Except that as a content provider you have to understand that a proportion of the people you put off will likely obtain the content illicitly (just as a proportion will always go that route). Doesn't make it right, but ask yourself this - if n% of those who don't like your offering will pirate, why in the world would you cling to a failing business model rather than try to improve your offering (and so reduce the raw numbers that that %age translates to).

          That's before we even get onto the historic tendency of the companies involved to blame any drop in profits on piracy and demand draconian measures to try and thwart it. If we all stopped watching tomorrow, piracy'd still be blamed. Though, in their defence, certain companies have definitely improved in that regard.

          Ultimately, for things I might want to watch again, I'd rather have a copy under my control. which, for me, means a DVD because Blu-ray has been so crippled by DRM I've no idea if I'll be able to play them in 10 years time. Torrents are an easy route to achieving that too, so I can see why some go that way.

          For things I want to watch once, streaming services would be fine, if they'd sort their respective libraries out and stop all the exclusivity stuff.

          1. John Lilburne Silver badge

            Re: Said it before, will say it again

            "why in the world would you cling to a failing business model rather than try to improve your offering (and so reduce the raw numbers that that %age translates to)."

            For all the bullshit, over the last 20 years, there is no business model there is no business model that competes with "everything free". Neither Ad supported nor subscription services work. Ultimately no one that makes content can survive in a 'free content' eco-system.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        "Netflix reduces its film content because it isn't popular enough to warrant the bandwidth usage."

        ? Struggling with the logic here. Please help.

        If a film isn't popular and therefore doesn't incur much in the way of playout bandwidth costs, what costs/logic makes it vanish from the library? Yes there's the cost of storage space in the content distribution network. Surely storage space is a nearly negligible cost?

        Surely Netflix haven't negotiated the kind of deal where they pay the contents right holders for particular TV/movies/etc truckloads of money whether or not any significant number of people watch those particular movies?

        Surely that would be commercial suicide, no?

        I don't understand (obviously).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          "Surely Netflix haven't negotiated the kind of deal where they pay the contents right holders for particular TV/movies/etc truckloads of money whether or not any significant number of people watch those particular movies?

          Surely that would be commercial suicide, no?"

          That's actually how they work usually. The presentation licenses (and most other media licenses) are typically negotiated to a fixed amount, paid in advance, so a network has to be picky and decide if the potential return is worth shelling out.

      4. Inertia

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        What's a "DVD"?

        1. JLV Silver badge

          >What's a "DVD"?

          something you own, dear.

        2. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          What's a "DVD"?

          It's a flattened wax cylinder made of mirrors that is played with sparks instead of bamboo needles. It is more advanced than a Mutoscope because it allows the presentation of several hours worth of industry ranting about prates before you get to the bit with the lady in bloomers who shows you her ankles.

      5. 1Rafayal

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        P Lee, DVD is soooo 2008

    5. Lusty Silver badge

      Re: Said it before, will say it again

      Completely agree, this is the kick in the nuts that the movie business needs to sort themselves out. 6 month exclusivity for cinema showings? I will NEVER go to the cinema to watch a movie just like some will always go, this is nothing to do with availability. All of the UK streaming services have the same crappy catalogue, and it never contains the movies you actually search for. Studios dictating usage rights to their customers (distributors, not movie watchers) - surely just set the price and let the market decide how to deliver your content? Cinemas around here are busy for a week following release and then have almost empty showings for the next several months, criminal waste of time.

      Piracy fixed the music business, and hopefully it will fix the movie business, remove their greed and let them make money (which many of us will willingly pay!).

      I've chosen not to use Kodi and the like, and was amazed at how simple piracy had become when someone showed it to me. Hopefully this is the Napster moment we've been hoping for.

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        " 6 month exclusivity for cinema showings? I will NEVER go to the cinema to watch a movie"

        Well, that is where the bulk of the profits come from, a streaming service showing new releases would cost a fortune to be able to compete with cinema revenues.

        I go to the cinema quite often, what's the reason you don't go? Is it cost? Because many cinemas offer memberships that are a flat rate and you can go as often as you like, for around £20 a month you can go to the cinema as often as you like... So really cost can't be a factor, so either you don't like the experience, or you just don't want to pay for the content you consume?

        1. MK_E

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          I used to have a Cineworld Unlimited subscription, then I moved house. Now the cost of travelling to the cineworld obliterates any savings from the subscription. Cinema near me now is a Vue and they don't seem to have that offer available. Which is a shame, 'cause with the unlimited card I would quite happily go and watch whatever happened to be on, even things I normally wouldn't bother with (and certainly wouldn't pay full ticket price for) since I'd already paid.

          When you factor in the fact that I could practically squeeze another entire movie in the time I'd spend sitting around travelling or waiting through trailers for the feature to start, now if I'm going to the cinema it's got to be for something I REALLY want to watch on the big screen.

        2. TheDillinquent
          Facepalm

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          If you've got a decent AV system at home WTF would you ever go to the flicks where there are noisy kids, overpriced snacks, poor seating positions, crowds, overenthusiastic aircon and a 15 mile round trip to contend with? Not to mention the multiplex lottery where you could end up watching the film you paid good money to see from the back of an auditorium with a screen the size of an iPhone.

          Whats more they won't let you smoke, drink beer, chat with your mates or snog your bird and won't pause while you can go to the fridge/bog.

          Cinemas are so 20th century!

        3. Kiwi Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: Said it before, will say it again

          Well, that is where the bulk of the profits come from, a streaming service showing new releases would cost a fortune to be able to compete with cinema revenues.

          Erm, Popcorn Time? Kodi? Lots of others? They seem to be able to handle this stuff. A monetised version of PT could work quite well.

          I go to the cinema quite often, what's the reason you don't go? Is it cost? Because many cinemas offer memberships that are a flat rate and you can go as often as you like, for around £20 a month you can go to the cinema as often as you like... So really cost can't be a factor, so either you don't like the experience, or you just don't want to pay for the content you consume?

          I've never heard of that. Looks like the closest we have here is "Cinebuzz" which is a "loyalty program" where you "watch 6 movies, get one free". Some discount movies as well with their "movie of the week" - but what's the chances it'll be a movie I like, at a price I am willing to pay, at a time I am able to see it?

          Your $20/month is about the same as our standard movie ticket I think. Might still be cheaper on a Tuesday night, maybe $15 or something like that. One person, one ticket. And I've seen 2 movies advertised in recent months were I've thought "wonder if it's worth the effort seeing it in the theatres". Many movies I've seen have been the sort of thing you regret ever paying money for, and never want to risk something like that again - can you say "jar jar"? (might've been the last movie I paid to see, but probably was LOTR:ROTK - but the JJB factor means I doubt I'd go to a theatre again, just not worth the risk - certainly if I had paid to see any of the new star-wreck garbage I'd never visit a theatre again!)

          PS: My local cinema? The brand-new multiplex built at a huge shopping complex a few years back? That replaced or put the other multiplex out of business? Well, it's not there any more. A couple of the Wellington ones also broke, so I have to travel to see any new release.

    6. se99paj

      Re: Said it before, will say it again

      Are you paying for a subscription service today? If you aren't then quit complaining

      You don't get anything for free in this world, so if you're not investing in a service don't come here complaining that the service isn't very good. Companies need money to pay for better services and need usage data to make sure they are showing the movies people want to see.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        >Are you paying for a subscription service today? If you aren't then quit complaining

        Many people I know have Netflix subscriptions. They also happen to be the same people with big DVD collections, and are also the same folk who will happily download/stream something from an illicit source if they can't watch it any other way. Oh, they might nip up to 20th Century Flicks - which has around 20,000 films in stock on DVD - but only if they're near Christmas Steps in Bristol, don't owe our Cap'n any late fees, aren't allergic to cats and have hauled their arse out of the Duke/Ship/Highbury/Vic etc in time. Sheeeiit, that rental shop even has some VHS cassettes of movies that haven't yet been released on DVD, and they will lend you a VHS machine free of charge.

        I would observe that my mates are now less likely to bother torrenting movies since using Netflix, so if the sub industry sorted it shit out and made every fashionable series available from one service they would see even less 'pirating'. But hey why should they bother - if a customer is paying their subscription, why would they care if someone is 'pirating' on the side?

      3. Cris E

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        "Are you paying for a subscription service today? If you aren't then quit complaining."

        Listen, the invisible hand that creates markets isn't a real thing. It's a fools game to wait around for companies to decide they've made enough money through exclusive contracts and lock-outs. As long as they can wring out more profit with the current model they won't make the next move to a broader coalition-style licensing model. The "invisible" hand that fixed music looked a lot like Napster and the Apple store. For video it's going to be more Kodi and a collapse of the siloed content into massive cooperatives that take less profit from far more numerous sales.

      4. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Said it before, will say it again

        Companies need money to pay for better services and need usage data to make sure they are showing the movies people want to see.

        Option 1, my preferred choice - a pay system. Pro : Artists etc get some money. Con : Have to sign up to a lot of subscription services in the hopes of getting what you want, little option for a service that only charges if and when you watch something. Also, providers can buy the licences to some things and hold a show for as long as they have the exclusive license. If you want to watch Breaking Bad in NZ, but TVNZ holds the license and won't show it, tough - you can't stream it, buy it on DVD or see it in any fashion within NZ. Finally, the content on all streaming services is fairly limited for various reasons.

        Option 2: Piracy. Kodi, Pirate Bay, Popcorn Time etc etc etc. Pro : Virtually unlimited content, on demand, for free. You want to watch it? It's there now, for free. 20 year old series no one wants to show or sell because they're doing an ultra-shite remake using imbeciles for scriptwriters and un-trained monkeys for actors? There for the viewing in all it's original 4x3 glory. The only limits are some rarer things where no one else wants to watch them.

        Con : Nobody gets paid.

        Your argument doesn't work. The pay services provide SFA despite the amount of money they rake in. The free services give you more-than-you-can-conceive-of-eating on demand, for free.

    7. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Said it before, will say it again

      > Spotify has proven the model works even if not perfect.....

      I think the pluralsight model could work well if the rights holders had more than 2 years foresight. Basically your monthly fee gets divided into two buckets. The first (small) bucket keeps the lights on for the service. The second (relatively large) bucket gets distributed to the content producers in proportion to the amount of time you spend consuming each. So if you spend your whole month watching some David Attenborough miniseries and then flick on frozen for the kids, most of that second bucket would get paid to BBC and the rest to Disney.

      Sell plans by the hour if you like, it's fair, easy to track, transparent and solves the content monopoly problems where a consumer literally can't afford to purchase all the services they like because of exclusive arrangements.

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