TickBox Settles Copyright Suit For $25 Million

Streaming device seller TickBox TV has agreed to pay $25 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it promoted copyright infringement, according to court papers filed Tuesday.

The company also consented to an injunction that prohibits it from presenting users with options to download add-ons that enable people to stream unlicensed movies or TV shows. The court papers don't specify which add-ons are covered by the agreement, but explicitly exclude the browsers Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

If accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald in the Central District of California, the agreement will resolve a lawsuit filed last year by Amazon, Netflix and a coalition of traditional movie studios. They alleged that TickBox, which allows consumers to access over-the-top video, encourages consumers to infringe copyright.

TickBox TV is powered by Kodi -- open-source software that enables people to play video. The content companies alleged that TickBox also uses add-ons that "scour the Internet for illegal sources of copyrighted content" and then display links to popular movies and TV shows to consumers.

When the lawsuit was filed, TickBox's website said the service lets consumers stop "wasting money with online streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime." The company's user interface also was allegedly used to direct customers to add-ons that offered infringing content.

Shortly after being sued, TickBox revised the language on its site as well as its user interface.

TickBox initially argued to Fitzgerald that it was not responsible for add-ons created by third parties. Earlier this year, Fitzgerald rejected that argument. He said in a preliminary ruling that even if TickBox wasn't directly responsible for add-ons that stream pirated programs, the company still played a role in spreading the content.

TickBox isn't the only company facing suit over streaming devices. The same coalition that sued TickBox also sued Dragon Media and Set TV. Those cases remain pending.

In May, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O'Rielly asked Amazon and eBay to crack down on "rogue" set-top-box sellers.

He said that some manufacturers and distributors exploit the FCC's logo by "fraudulently placing it on devices that have not been approved via the Commission's equipment authorization process."

O'Rielly added that even though the FCC lacks jurisdiction over copyright infringement, he found it troubling that many rogue devices were being used for piracy.

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