Movie Coalition Ramps Up Fight Against TV Streaming Devices

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By Anandashankar Mazumdar

A group of movie studios and streaming TV platforms are stepping up litigation against streaming device makers that allegedly facilitate copyright infringement.

Five major movie studios, along with Netflix and Amazon, Jan. 10 sued the maker of the Dragon Box, a device that allows users to stream internet content directly to their television sets, in the U.S District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs, all members of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, accuse Dragon Media Inc. of intentional inducement of copyright infringement and contributory copyright infringement.

The movie studios brought similar claims against the maker of the TickBox in October. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment said it was planning more such actions. The TickBox and the Dragon Box are devices known as Kodi boxes, named after the open source software used by many of the systems.

Content owners are concerned about use of the devices, because they make finding and streaming infringing content easier than accessing pirate websites on a personal computer. The litigation campaign hopes to stem the popularity of the technology, which has so far been more widespread overseas.

For the motion picture industry, Kodi boxes create the risk that accessing unauthorized streams will become a socially acceptable family-centered activity, intellectual property litigator Ira J. Levy of Goodwin Procter LLP, New York, told Bloomberg Law.

“When you start attaching this to the family room television, it tends to become more ingrained,” Levy said.

Discrediting Idea of Streaming

Mitch Stoltz of the public advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation said that the studios’ litigation campaign is part of an effort to discredit the idea of free streaming.

“There’s a lot of video on the internet that can be streamed with the permission of the copyright holder or is in the public domain or is fair use,” Stoltz told Bloomberg Law.

He also said that the lawsuits represent a step toward the goal of gaining “control over the design and functioning of personal video equipment.”

Dragon Media didn’t immediately respond to a Bloomberg Law request for comment.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit included Netflix Studios LLC, Amazon Content Services LLC, Columbia Pictures Industries Inc., Disney Enterprises Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Universal City Studios Productions LLLP, and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP and the Motion Picture Association of America Inc. represented the movie studios.

Netflix Studios, LLC v. Dragon Media Inc. , C.D. Cal., No. 18-230, complaint filed 1/10/18

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at amazumdar@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bloomberglaw.com

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