Kodi software add-ons are now being targeted by a renown Swiss digital encryption agency
Third-party Kodi add-ons designed to allow users to stream copyrighted content for free are being targeted by Swiss digital security firm, NAGRA.
The company, part of the Kudelski Group, designs digital encryption systems for a number of products, including cable and satellite TV feeds, to secure copyrighted content from pirates.
NAGRA also provides content protection for Netflix.
And now the Swiss company has announced plans to broaden its portfolio – and target pirate streams that use the Kodi platform.
For those who don't know, Kodi is a neutral, open-source media player software that can be installed on a broad range of devices.
This legal software can be used to run third-party add-ons which enable users to access copyright-protected material for free – uploaded, shared or streamed from other users across the globe. And it's these ready-made "pirate" streaming devices, which are manufactured by a range of different brands but running Kodi and a slew of third-party add-ons, are colloquially dubbed Kodi Boxes.
NAGRA and the International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP) have announced plans "to bring a new generation of anti-piracy technology and services" to broadcasters and content distributors.
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Vice President Media Security Services for NAGRA, Frederic Guitard said: "NAGRA is constantly expanding its portfolio of content value protection technologies and services, and this contract marks a milestone in our commitment to support broadcasters and content creators in the protection of their content from piracy in foreign markets.
"Developing automated, state-of-the-art tools to detect unauthorised streaming – especially on increasingly popular IPTV set-top boxes and Kodi add-ons – helps ensure we can take swift and decisive action against pirates and maintain the value of the services offered to IBCAP members."
IBCAP and NAGRA have maintained a working relationship since 2014.
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"The expansion of our agreement with NAGRA will help us leverage the latest technologies and expertise in content protection and anti-piracy with the aim of putting pirates out of business and replacing them with legitimate providers,” said Chris Kuelling, Executive Director of IBCAP.
Little is known about how NAGRA plans to tackle those who use Kodi to access copyrighted material for free.
However, the Swiss company confirmed that it plans to establish a lab designed solely to monitor and detect any unauthorised use of content via set-top boxes, websites or other streaming platforms.
NAGRA is part of the Kudelski Group and specialises in digital encryption systems
The company plans to target both live streams of copyrighted content as well as video on-demand solutions.
It will also take steps to identify people selling ready-made devices, like the so-called Kodi Boxes, to gather evidence for future lawsuits.
The NAGRA announcement is just the latest in a number of attempts to tackle online piracy.
Earlier this month, Amazon announced a tough new stance against vendors who sell media players that allow customers to access pirate streams and copyright-protected material for free. The US retail firm now explicitly bans all media players that "promote" or "suggest" the easy facilitation of piracy.
Sellers who violate the policy could have any inventory stored in Amazon fulfilment centres destroyed – with no reimbursement, the company warns.
Amazon is very strict about its stance on devices that enable users free access copyrighted content
Amazon has never explicitly permitted the sale of these copyright-infringing set-top boxes, however, it was possible to find sellers within the online marketplace trying to sell them through the retail portal.
Kodi is one example of the software that can be used to power these "pirate" media players.
Some estimates currently place 20 million devices running Kodi in use in the UK at the moment.
Kodi is not the only software that enables these types of "pirate" streaming devices – but it is one of the most well-known.
Last September, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) branded the use of Kodi software to tune into pirated streams as an "epidemic".
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Speaking to The Guardian, a spokesperson for the Premier League said: “The Premier League is currently engaged in its largest ever anti-piracy campaign to protect its copyright.
“Like other sports and creative industries our model is predicated on the ability to market and sell rights and protect our intellectual property.
"It is because of this that clubs can invest in and develop talented players, build world-class stadiums, support the English football pyramid and schools and communities across the country – all things that fans enjoy and wider society benefits from.”
The Premier League recently secured a hugely significant court order which is aimed at stopping rights-infringing video streams of its matches.
This new ruling gives the league the ability to block servers which are broadcasting the games – stopping users of Kodi and other streaming devices from tuning in for free.
Until now, rights holders could only close individual streams which could easily be restarted via a new server.
The Premier League says they are implementing the order because of concerns that fans are side-stepping premium pay services, such as Sky and BT Sport, who each pay huge sums for the rights to broadcast the matches.