Facebook Bans 'Promotion' Of Kodi Boxes, Even If They're Perfectly Legal

from the somebody-is-clearly-terrified dept

If you haven’t noticed, the entertainment industry has a new, terrifying bogeyman. Over the last year or two, pressure from entertainment industry lobbying groups has resulted in an all-out war on streaming video devices (aka computers) that run Kodi, the video streaming software. Kodi has technically been around since 2002, first as Xbox Media Player, after which it became the Xbox Media Center until 2014. The XBMC Foundation then renamed the software Kodi, and it became popular as an easy way to store and stream content, including copyrighted content, from hardware running Kodi to other devices in or out of the home.

For years now, tinkerers everywhere have built custom-made PCs that use the open-source Kodi platform. In more recent years, outfits like Dragonbox or SetTV have taken things further by selling users tailor-made hardware that provides easy access to live copyrighted content by not only including Kodi, but integrating numerous tools and add-ons that make copyright infringement easier. Driven largely by clearly-terrified entertainment-industry execs and lobbyists, numerous studios, Netflix and Amazon have tried to sue these efforts out of existence.

Even the FCC has tried to help the entertainment industry in this fight, demanding that Ebay and Amazon crack down on the sale of such devices. Since the FCC lacks authority over copyright, it has instead tried to justify its involvement here by focusing on these devices’ illegal use of the FCC approval logo. It’s another big favor to the entertainment industry by the Pai FCC, who you’ll recall killed efforts to help make the traditional cable box sector more open and competitive.

But the fight has also been pushed well beyond “fully loaded” Kodi-embedded devices specifically built and sold with an eye on copyright infringement. Google, for example, has banned the word Kodi from its autocomplete filter despite the fact that the Kodi software is perfectly legal. Facebook has also been piling on, initially updating its commerce policy to ban the promotion of “products or items” that facilitate or encourage unauthorized access to digital media.

Last week, Cordcutter news was the first to notice that Facebook had since tailored its commerce policy further to specifically ban Facebook users from promoting “the sale or use of streaming devices with KODI installed.”:

Facebook hasn’t banned the sale of any devices that are compatible with Kodi-streaming devices (keyboards, remotes). But the specific focus on Kodi remains a problem because, again, Kodi itself isn’t illegal. Nor is building a small custom-PC with Kodi (or any of numerous variants like Plex) installed. Banning users for selling custom PCs that just happen to include software the entertainment industry assumes will be used for piracy is an obnoxious over-reach, but it should make it clear just how terrified the entertainment industry is of such devices.

It’s an age-old story. This “threat” (which again is perfectly-legal hardware running perfectly-legal software) could be countered by offering consumers better, more modifiable, and open products and services. Instead, as we saw with the cable industry’s massive disinformation attack against cable box reform efforts, the goal is always to keep everything unrealistically locked down to the detriment of the right to tinker and consumer choice.

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Comments on “Facebook Bans 'Promotion' Of Kodi Boxes, Even If They're Perfectly Legal”

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70 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

perfectly legal?

Are you opposed to Facebook blocking the promotion of other items? Should they open the doors to the legal sales of firearms on their platform?

Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that it’s perfectly legal for Facebook to create bans like this. You wouldn’t want to interfere in their legal activities now, would you?

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: perfectly legal?

It’s not a strawman at all. If you object to Facebook banning one type of legal merchandise but not another, then you are simply a hipocrite. You are happy to be subjected to “Zucks’ Law” so long as it suits you.

You are happy to embrace corporate Fascism so long as the flavor that suits you.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: perfectly legal?

“Should they open the doors to the legal sales of firearms on their platform?”

You mean like walmart?

Sure no problem if that’s the road they choose. As long as they follow state and federal laws I see no problem.

“it’s perfectly legal for Facebook to create bans like this.”
Absolutely. Also stupid. Which was the point.

“You wouldn’t want to interfere in their legal activities now, would you?”
If only you were as smart as you think you are.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: perfectly legal?

Discussions of legality and discussions of morality/ethics are not the same thing. If Techdirt comments on the moral/ethical issues of this ban (what they do here), they are not commenting on the legal status.

They often comment on the legal status when there is a lawsuit or public response trying to push back against actions with a rally about “Free Speech” to respond to that push back, and often comment on moral grounds when moral panics or ethical panics or corporatist pressure is behind the activity being discussed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“And this is another use of piracy to try and prevent a real problem, that of cable cutting which Kodi makes easy to do.”

Cable cutting is only a problem for the cable companies, not their prior customers nor anyone else who does not use their service. Many cut the cable and simply use ota, damned pirates – stealing over the air video.

Anonymous Coward says:

Good job, billionaires

So we will buy our Kodi devices from the smaller online stores. If others accept Paypal who cares about Facebook Marketplace anyway.

Plenty of piracy on eBay that I have seen (Microsoft software license keys “come here and collect the broken motherboard this key is tired to if you want it”, etc).

Joey says:

Maybe if the cable companies was as good as adelphia cable and

Maybe if the cable companies was like it was when Adelphia cable was around and didn’t lie and say u couldn’t get 2 threw 99 with out a cable box when u can and so on maybe people wouldn’t do thay adelphia canle and the analog landline are the best analog landline if u have a corded phine and power goes out I still have a phone power goes out all the time and I still have a phone because of it

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Isn't this total fodder for a whack-a-mole situation

When the [1994 assault weapons ban] came out with a list of components that make an assault weapon, gun developers got right on the task of making alternative devices that did not, according to the legal descriptions qualify as that specific component. Pistol-style foregrips, for example, were replaced with a weird looking handle with a thumb-hole that worked close enough.

This looks like a thing where KODI can be replaced with any other software that does exactly the same thing, even if the code is identical to KODI except for enough aesthetic changes to make it not KODI.

Still, these are people and industries that are happy to pirate for their own uses, even while they try to hunt those that pirate their own IP, so it’s hard to take them seriously as having a legitimate gripe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Isn't this total fodder for a whack-a-mole situation

DId you ever see the documentaries about Gorillas where they have two gorillas play a game, and the one that wins get a prize? Gorillas understand the rules very quickly, and have incredibly fast reaction times, much faster than humans. When someone changes the rules on them, they go crazy, literally, screaming and yelling, pounding their chest, flinging their excrement, the whole 9 yards.

You have 2 consecutive posts. Bad gorilla. Flag and censor immediately, please.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sounds familiar

Didn’t they try to spread the same sort of confusion over VCRs legality in the past too despite there being literally no reason why the hardware would be illegal and only succeeded in making it explicitly so? And it took until after that for the terminal dumbasses realized that if people are buying the then expensive tapes for over the air content they could start selling their media backlog to consumers them with signals that started out perfectly crisp instead of starting with the distortion of the broadcast plus the recording distortion?

Anonymous Coward says:

Awesome!

Now that they have less opportunities to use that piece of shit Kodi, perhaps more people will use and contribute to MythTV.

XBMC was an ambitious project, but shortly before they started calling it Kodi was when everything turned to shit. They abandoned their hacker roots, got greedy, tried to “go legit”, changed the project’s name to something you’d call a cat, and then fell right on their asses. Ha and ha.

Chason Note says:

Facebook bans kodi

I cannot believe it. Facebook has very serious issues on the subject foreign influences using the Facebook platform to
Negatively influence american politics.
And just how is the Facebook ban on kodi going stop the flow of information of kodi on the internet or on Facebook anyway.
The devices, the app and it’s spinoffs.
Long live Open Source. Let’s build our own Facebook.
.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Facebook bans kodi

Been thinking about that since the shadow banning and outright banning became public. All you need to do is create a copy of Disqus that allows people to save locally (so no one can ban you), as well as to the cloud, and allows the article to be included above the comment section. It needs a little work but it is a beginning.

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