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Netflix, Amazon, Movie Studios Sue Over TickBox Streaming Device (arstechnica.com) 135

Movies studios, Netflix, and Amazon have teamed up to file a lawsuit against a streaming media player called TickBox TV. The device in question runs Kodi on top of Android 6.0, and searches the internet for streams that it can make available to users without actually hosting any of the content itself. An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The complaint (PDF), filed Friday, says the TickBox devices are nothing more than "tool[s] for mass infringement," which operate by grabbing pirated video streams from the Internet. The lawsuit was filed by Amazon and Netflix Studios, along with six big movie studios that make up the Motion Picture Association of America: Universal, Columbia, Disney, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros.

"What TickBox actually sells is nothing less than illegal access to Plaintiffs' copyrighted content," write the plaintiffs' lawyers. "TickBox TV uses software to link TickBox's customers to infringing content on the Internet. When those customers use TickBox TV as Defendant intends and instructs, they have nearly instantaneous access to multiple sources that stream Plaintiffs' Copyrighted Works without authorization." The device's marketing materials let users know the box is meant to replace paid-for content, with "a wink and a nod," by predicting that prospective customers who currently pay for Amazon Video, Netflix, or Hulu will find that "you no longer need those subscriptions." The lawsuit shows that Amazon and Netflix, two Internet companies that are relatively new to the entertainment business, are more than willing to join together with movie studios to go after businesses that grab their content.

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Netflix, Amazon, Movie Studios Sue Over TickBox Streaming Device

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Diluted services start making it more expensive to legally stream content and people will go back to piracy.

    Netflix found the magic cost-to-benefit ratio

    • I bought a box just like that off of Amazon so are they going to sue themselves?
  • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert.slashdot@firenzee@com> on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @04:39PM (#55385997) Homepage

    I'd never heard of tickbox before, now the lawsuit is being reported in the media and drawing attention i expect their sales to go up.
    Eventually they will lose the case and go under, but not before the owners have run off with a decent profit.

    • Eventually they will lose the case and go under, but not before the owners have run off with a decent profit.

      That's the point precisely, as long as a "quick buck" can be made.

      if I were them, I'd sell the box without any potentially "infringing" functionality;
      I'd also include any disclaimers I need to include so as to "insulate" myself;
      then point buyers to a site that has code to that makes the box work as intended.

      Next, profit!

    • never herd of them but it they sound pretty shady. plenty of free plugins do the same thing.
  • There are already hacks/cracks/side-loads, whatever you want to call it, for Fire stick that do the same thing. They just made it easy for the masses. It won't be long before you can get an image and boot it to a small Linux box for free.

  • Quit artificially limiting my access to media! Whether it's simply not making it available at all, or by forcing me to subscribe to 12 streaming services to get access to the content they are forcing the population back to piracy.

    I realize that while there are some major douches out there who would pirate a movie if it cost only a dime, there are many of us who would happily pay if you stopped screwing us over.

    • by sehlat ( 180760 )

      I realize that while there are some major douches out there who would pirate a movie if it cost only a dime, there are many of us who would happily pay if you stopped screwing us over.

      It's funny how things work. I know people who have the exact same attitude toward the Big 5 publishing companies.

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        Of books? The situations are not at all comparable. You don't have to subscribe to 5 different publishers' services to get books from each. You can go to their website for free, or to Amazon or B&N or Book Depository.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by farble1670 ( 803356 )

      Quit artificially limiting my access to media!

      So true. By god, you are owed that media. It's your right as an American. Give me my content or, or give me death! I think that's how it went right?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @05:33PM (#55386339)

        Yes, pretty much. Copyright is a government-enacted, granted, and termed restriction of people's rights to ideas. You own the VHS plastic and rust that information is held on, but the data held in the rust is as "owned" by anyone as one "owns" the sound waves coming from a mouth, or anyone can own the light coming from the sun.

        If movies couldn't be made without copyright, fine. I guess movies wouldn't be business model. There is no inherent right for government or society to protect a business model. When it *is* done, it's entirely up for debate how and why it's done. The default state is no idea ownership.

        We're "owed" the content because ideas and data cannot inherently be "owned" at all. We decided to restrict ownership for entirely practical reasons, not reasons of inherent moral imperative. If the practicality of the reasons goes away or is reduced, it's entirely feasible to adjust the limitations. If the limitations begin to infringe on topics we consider *actual* 'moral' imperatives (like life, property, free speech, etc) to a degree that is unacceptable (subjective !) then it can enter the realm of a *detriment* to morality, but never can copyight itself enter the realm of *being* a moral imperative by itself, because it isn't that in any way.

        One of the subjective measure of the feasibility is precisely how willing people are to abide by it. If most people say it's dumb and don't abide by it, then it *is* dumb because there is no other moral imperative behind it's inception. It *Is* also possible that people who say it's dumb don't think it through, or will change their minds when all TV, movies, and music goes away, but maybe it won't. Who knows.

        • by Motard ( 1553251 )

          My God, the stupidity of this particular argument is epic.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Then the constitution is stupid. The law was established exactly for the reason the GP specified. You don't own ideas once you've shared them. Artificial protections were put in place by force of law in order to artificially grant this protection.

            • by Motard ( 1553251 )

              You need to read some more and not just call the constitution stupid. The people who wrote it were dealing with some shit way more serious than your panty waist-ed X-men addiction. And in the process they established intellectual property rights.

              Do you know why copyrights and patents were put in place? To allow people to make a profit before the majors simply copied their ideas.

              You DO own your ideas. At least for a period of time. That's what was done. But you don't own my idea. And if you can't even

              • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @09:48PM (#55387525)

                Do you know why copyrights and patents were put in place? To allow people to make a profit before the majors simply copied their ideas.

                You DO own your ideas. At least for a period of time.

                Do you understand WHY they made it so you could profit from your ideas for a limited time? To promote the progress of science and the useful arts by the release of those works into the public domain. If the end goal wasn't for the works to become public domain they wouldn't have specified that the exclusive right is for a limited time.

                So yes, those works are owed to the general public after a limited time. Copyright has been extended so far that for practical purposes it never becomes public domain. It is unconstitutional, it is the wholesale theft of the public domain.

                • by Motard ( 1553251 )

                  It is true that the protections would be for a limited time. But that's not what we're talking about here, is it?

                  Is TickBox serving up Marx Brothers movies? Three Stooges?

                  C'Mon, man.

              • by Anonymous Coward

                You DO own your ideas. At least for a period of time.

                https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#102 [copyright.gov]

                (b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.

                Additionally
                https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#106a [copyright.gov]

                (a) Rights of Attribution and Integrity.-Subject to section 107 and independent of the exclusive rights provided in section 106, the author of a work of visual art-
                (1) shall have the right-
                (A) to claim authorship of that work
                , and

                Claim authorship, not ownership, authorship.

                A copyright holder can claim they HAD the idea, they have no right in law to claim OWNERSHIP of an idea.

                Also of note
                https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92appa.html [copyright.gov]

                Sec. 113. (a) The Librarian of Congress (hereinafter referred to as the âoeLibrarÂianâ) shall establish and maintain in the Library of Congress a library to be known as the American Television and Radio Archives (hereinafter referred to as the âoeArchivesâ). The purpose of the Archives shall be to preserve a permanent record of the television and radio programs which are the heritage of the people of the United States and to provide access to such programs to historians and scholars without encouraging or causing copyright infringement.

                There is a cost to place a work under copyright protection, it is not free.
                That cost is after copyright expires, that work belongs to the people of the USA.

                So many copyright holders behaved

          • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

            My God, the stupidity of this particular argument is epic.

            If you want me to give up one of my rights -- the right to say what I want, copy what I want, all these natural rights that we used to take for granted, then you have to give me something in return. The entire purpose of copyright was to give a very limited time period of exclusivity, because that will enable more content to be created and released to the public domain. That was the entire purpose -- they felt copyright was the way to maximize the public domain. Otherwise, it's not morally justifiable to li

        • People are so good at making content these days. Have you seen YouTube. Of course you have. The movie studios are competing with all that. It's absurd that they still have room to stand with how they do business.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by farble1670 ( 803356 )

          Yes, pretty much. Copyright is a government-enacted, granted, and termed restriction of people's rights to ideas.

          Yes, pretty much like rape laws are government-enacted restrictions on people's rights to have sex with whoever they want, whenever they want. Good job, you just described every law on the book.

          One of the subjective measure of the feasibility is precisely how willing people are to abide by it.

          If you don't pay for your content, you're a leach. You are leaching off of everyone else that's paying for it. If other people didn't pay for it, then it wouldn't exist, and you wouldn't be able to leach it in the first place.

          A great way to decide if an action is moral, or good for society. Imagine what it'd be like

          • by Anonymous Coward

            "Good job, you just described every law on the book."

            No, not at al, and in fact exactly the opposite. 'Rape' would, by definition, infringe on another person's right to liberty. Rape laws define the demarcation of a conflict of rights, my right to perform actions and another's rights to be free from impinging actions (liberty). Yes, this is pretty much what laws do. However, notice that the "law" says nothing about defining the right of liberty to exist or the right of freedom to exist. These are taken to b

      • by sixsixtysix ( 1110135 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @05:55PM (#55386471)
        Copyright should include an availability clause. Artificial scarcity in a digital word has got to be one of the most anti-consumer things I can imagine. I'd love to lock Disney's board's children in the fucking vault. If it's not available, it should not protected. Media's value should also not be exempt from going down with the cost of reproduction. Infinite copies with such little overhead should mean drastic reductions in cost (75% seems like a good place to start, not to mention recompense for consumer rights lost like resale or lending), like nearly every other industry.
        Besides that, they've had 15 years to get their shit together and release globally, yet they continue their bullshit regioning, milking it to the last drop. What do they expect? I mean, if it is a global economy and all, shouldn't consumers be able to find the cheapest media like corporations find the cheapest labor?
        • by Motard ( 1553251 )

          My friends and I will be over later to decide how to best portion out your property.

        • You are talking about Disney's movies like they are a natural resource or required for life. How about this: you don't like their business model? Go away, and do something else with your time. Like I said above, content is a right. You're acting like these movies are a loaf of bread and you're starving to death.

          What do they expect?

          I think they expect you to either buy their content or go outside and walk your dog. Your choice.

          • "You're acting like these movies are a loaf of bread and you're starving to death."

            I think you hit the nail on the head. This is precisely the case.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @08:45PM (#55387269)

        So true. By god, you are owed that media. It's your right as an American. Give me my content or, or give me death! I think that's how it went right?

        I know you're trying to be funny/sarcastic, but you're actually correct.

        Society in general benefits from access to media (books, stories, museums, etc).
        Studies have shown that being exposed to more media (and therefore more characters and differing viewpoints) increases empathy and creates a society where people can get along easier and are more willing to help each other.

        The point of copyright laws was to encourage people to create media for the public domain.
        In exchange for that public service, they were granted a LIMITED monopoly so the creator could get a benefit.

        Two hundred years ago, a 14 year copyright term seemed like enough time to distribute something using horses and boats.
        In this day and age you can instantly distribute worldwide with the push of a button but the current copyright length has increased to effectively infinity.

        The current copyright situation is an example of the rich few bribing politicians to rob from everyone. We are all harmed by this in hard to tell ways so that a relatively few people can become insanely wealthy.

        • by Motard ( 1553251 )

          I think copyright was always longer than that, but in essence, you're right. It's for the original author.

          I think we can all agree that over the years the terms of copyright protection has been extended too far beyond this goal. This needs a serious looking at.

          But if we're to be totally honest here, we're not talking about Marx Brothers movies or Mickey Mouse shorts, are we? It's about new movies. Ones that no one would argue the copyright has expired on.

          The current copyright system is exactly the same

          • by LocalH ( 28506 )

            "I think copyright was always longer than that, but in essence, you're right. It's for the original author."

            As far as the US is concerned, the original copyright law gave 14 years with a single 14-year renewal.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        • "The point of copyright laws was to encourage people to create media for the public domain."

          No. Without a financial incentive to create, there would be nothing to add to the public domain. I sense that you are arguing from a "greed is bad" perspective, or an "everything should be free for everyone" perspective, which is essentially the antithesis of a civilized society.

          Do you do something important for the world? Do you work for completely altruistic reasons, rather than collecting a pay check?

          It seems that

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      orcing me to subscribe to 12 streaming services to get access to the content

      So you would rather pay $150/month for ONE service that gets you the content you want?

      Because that's the whole cable model - sell you lots of content prepackaged and people hated it. They want the ability to pick and choose their content ("a la carte"). But the flip side of it is having to pick up and join many separate services to get the content you want.

      So either you want 12 services but the ability to finely pick what you want,

      • by Motard ( 1553251 )

        It's not a choice I need to make. Of course, I can, if I so desire. Or I can decide that I really don't need to watch Star Trek: The Search for More Revenue.

        It's mostly all a fucking waste of time anyway.

      • No, I’d rather pay a reasonable amount (like 20 or 30 a month) and get the everything service. Do you know what people do with the more specific services that they only watch one show from? They finish watching that show, cancel their subscription, and then sign up again when the next season starts. Having a single $20/month service I could subscribe to for the entire year instead of 6 different $20/month services that I subscribe to for 2 months at a time gives the content creators the same amount of
    • by Holi ( 250190 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @05:31PM (#55386331)
      Funny, I remember hearing all the cries for a la carte programming on this very site. I believe at the time I warned to be careful what you wish for.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I agree! Same with the RIAA, and publishers. All are trying to cling to an outdated artificial scarcity business model that just won't fly any more. No, I do not feel entitled to get content without paying for it. I am just tired of all of the crap that the MPAA/RIAA/publishers are pushing to try to hide their extreme price gouging!

      There should be no reason for me to have to subscribe to more than two streaming services to have access to pretty much any movie or TV show ever made. And the whole region

    • Wow! Great comment!
  • by thereitis ( 2355426 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @05:01PM (#55386119) Journal
    Since they aren't hosting any of the infringing content, isn't this still legal in Canada? ie. You can download but not upload content. That's what the blank CD/DVD media tax was supposed to address. Note: I'm not a lawyer, this isn't legal advice.
    • It's not that cut and dry. The downloading in this sense has not had a great case through the courts yet. So the legality is still a little murky around downloading. And it would make sense to me that if you are knowingly downloading content that is not legally available via other means - or even released yet, then you know you are breaking the law and shouldn't benefit from that gray area. However if you are downloading that show that aired on cable (that you pay for) that you missed because you were a
    • As another commenter pointed out, it's a grey area as there hasn't been a definitive case through the courts yet.

      I feel the companies that are advertising and selling these preloaded boxes as replacements to cable ("for free!") should be illegal as they are profiting by directly selling the device to consumers.

      Streaming of the content should be legal, based on previous court cases (I can't cite them at the moment, on mobile and just heading out), where streaming was deemed "not downloading" as it does not s

    • Not sure about Canada, but in the UK there's been a lot of 'clamping down' on this sort of thing (we have a media tax too, BTW). You can't actively assist in copyright infringement, and if the device is primarily used for copyright infringement, you can't sell it.

      Now, if they could come up with a box that mostly shows legal streams, but has some back-door way to get to the illegal ones, then they might have a better chance. The trouble is, average-joe doesn't want such a box - they want all the illegal stuf

  • this seems like going after a low hanging fruit to get the results you want and set a precedent.

    • Speaking of precedents: I hope they don't go after farts! If I make one that they copywrited, I'll be in trouble for sure! (The odds are against me!)
      • I'm pretty sure some of those fart apps copied their content from me! I need to call my lawyer and sue those bastichs.

  • The write up states that the system scans the internet to find feeds. So the content producers go after the people who might scan for those feeds? Why not go after the people who are providing the feeds in the first place? Stop the signal at the source, not at the receivers... But that would mean the music industry must sue themselves because they have been caught seeding content to collect infos on the pirates... What an odd world we have created... :)
    • by Motard ( 1553251 )

      We've already been through this many times for many years. This sort of thing is hardly new. There are no novel legal arguments that may succeed.

  • TickBox devices are nothing more than "tool[s] for mass infringement," which operate by grabbing pirated video streams from the Internet

    Thanks for drawing our attention to this product in such a kind display of altruism.

    It would have been even more considerate if your 'complaint' contained a 'Where to buy' section.

    Best regards,
    B Streisand.

  • If you don't want me to watch it or listen to it, don't make it available on the wires coming into my house. Once it's on my premises, I consider it to be fair game for decoding, cracking, spoofing, or any other means of making use of the signal you freely gave me.

  • Tickbox (Score:4, Informative)

    by youngone ( 975102 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @07:41PM (#55387007)
    First impressions:
    There is a typo on the homepage. (Turn you TV into a content filled home theatre system enjoying thousands of ...). Seriously?
    It won't tell me how much the thing costs until I enter my email address, which makes me suspicious. Also I need to act fast, as the 40% discount won't last long, which just sounds like one of those late night shopping channel hucksters.
    Apart from that, it looks like any one of hundreds of cheap Chinese Kodi boxes I can buy from Aliexpress or Banggood.
    I actually built myself something similar for about $60 using an old Atom powered Acer box I bought second hand. It runs LibreElec and works pretty well.
  • The best way to put TickBox out of business is to buy their product, then shut down every stream they find. TickBox is doing the studio's work FOR THEM, finding infringing content with no effort from the studios at all.

    Really. Only a lawyer would pursue this path. An executive with half a brain would simply starve TickBox of content.

  • There are several of these ready-made android based Kodi stream boxes out there. In fact, you can turn a Pi 3 into a kodi box in about 20 minutes. The key is finding the right plugins for kodi and those are changing all the time.

    In fact, you can put Kodi and all the plugins on linux, windows, android, really any platform.

    Kodi is just a multimedia juke box platform for the local machine and your LAN, the internet streaming stuff is all by plugin.

    This lawsuit will widely publicize the stream box phenomenon an

  • So let me get this straight. Content providers want to sue TickBox for creating a device that roots out contraband. Seems to me that content providers would be buying a TickBox themselves so they could more easily find the infringing content and then issue take-down orders.

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