The developer behind a popular add-on for the Kodi media player wants your help to fight back against “copyright bullies”.
The creator of ZemTV, which can be installed on any Kodi-powered device, has asked the public for funds to help mount a defence against a lawsuit filed by Dish Network in the United States.
ZemTV is an open-source tool that enables Kodi users to scrape video content from third-party sources.
Although the add-on provides an interface, it does not host or supply the video feed.
For those unaware, Kodi is a neutral, open-source media player that can be installed on a broad range of devices – from discount set-top boxes powered by Android, to known brands, like Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Apps – known as add-ons – can be built by third-party developers to allow users to stream premium content, like paid-for sports and movie channels for free without permission from the rightsholders.
So-called Kodi Boxes are devices, manufactured by a number of different brands, with all the requisite third-party software to stream paid-for content for free preinstalled on the set-top box.
Broadcaster Dish Network filed a copyright infringement complaint at the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas earlier this summer to stop “unlawful retransmissions of television channels exclusively licensed to Dish throughout the US”.
ZemTV now faces fines of $150,000 for each of the three alleged counts of copyright infringement.
A spokesperson for Dish Network told Express.co.uk, “DISH is very supportive of innovation like Kodi and legal streaming services.
“The suit does not target individual end users, rather it seeks to stop a very specific add-on that supplied pirated content.
“We feel obligated to raise awareness about content that users may not realise is pirated, while also supporting our programming partners who work to create and supply content legally.
“We remain committed to combatting piracy and ensuring consumers have reliable, affordable options to access the content they enjoy.”
The developer behind ZemTV, known as Shani, is now raising money for his defence.
Shani said: “The fight is rigged against the little guy, they are trying to make something illegal that shouldn’t be illegal.”
Speaking to piracy blog TorrentFreak, the developer said: “I’ve never been to Texas in my life, I’m from London, England. Somehow a normal chap like me is expected to defend himself against a billion dollar media giant.
“I don’t have the money to fight this on my own, and hope my friends will help support my fight against the expansion of copyright liability.”
He added: “I had no involvement nor control over any of the websites or content sources that were allegedly accessible through ZemTV.
“I did not host nor take part in the sharing of any form of streaming media. As an open source developer, I should not be held liable for the potential abuse of my code.”
Shani has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Generosity, asking for $8,500 to mount a defence.
At the time of writing, Shani only has $682 pledged, which doesn’t bode well.