TV-box seller TickBox makes deal

Posted: September 12, 2018 at 2:03 a.m.

A Georgia seller of set-top boxes accused of facilitating online copyright infringement on a huge scale has agreed to pay $25 million in damages to the major studios and streaming services, and will stop its illegal activities, according to court documents.

Attorneys for the nation's largest film and TV companies on Tuesday filed a proposed permanent injunction against TickBox TV, which sells devices that allow users to stream movies and shows to their television sets. The injunction, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, stipulates that TickBox must remove and disable access to any software that links to stolen content.

The agreement, which must be approved by the court, is a big victory for the Hollywood studios and streaming services Netflix and Amazon, which joined last year in a wide-ranging campaign to quash intellectual-property theft.

Studios and streamers sued TickBox in October, accusing the nascent operation of selling its device, once listed at $150 on its website, "as a tool for the mass infringement" of copyrights to movies and TV shows.

The injunction against the nearly 2-year-old startup is the first legal triumph for Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, a coalition of international studios, television networks and online video companies that fights piracy worldwide.

The injunction technically allows TickBox to continue as a business as long as it does not facilitate theft, but that appears unlikely. The company's website now redirects visitors to a technical support page and does not offer devices for sale.

A representative for TickBox declined to comment.

Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Disney, 20th Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros., Netflix and Amazon are plaintiffs in the case.

TickBox TV's devices rely on open-source media player software known as Kodi, which can be modified with apps and add-ons from third-party developers that allow people to stream online content, sometimes including unlicensed movies and shows. The studios accused TickBox of directing its users to apps and add-ons that provided access to pirated content and even live television.

Kodi itself is legal, and has legitimate uses for people who don't want to be saddled with expensive pay-TV packages, experts say. But anti-piracy advocates say the technology is often used to turn living room TV sets into user-friendly piracy portals.

In its complaint, the studios referred to TickBox marketing materials that directed users to "(s)imply plug the TickBox TV into your current television and enjoy unlimited access to all the hottest TV shows, Hollywood blockbusters and live sporting events in one convenient little device ... absolutely free."

In January, a federal judge handed down a preliminary injunction meant to block the company from encouraging its customers to illegally access copyrighted material. He stopped short of granting the Hollywood giants' wish to put TickBox out of business.

Business on 09/12/2018