XTV, a private channel designed for Roku has been banned. The channel which had been heavily promoted on facebook groups and a number of websites provided numerous links to copyrighted material. Roku recently shut down the channel citing a copyright complaint. This should not be a surprise to anyone. The entertainment industry has been focusing more and more on the distribution of copyrighted content over the past few years as streaming has become more and more popular.
Suits have been filed in the EU, Canada, and the US involving live streaming soccer, promoting apps that provide copyrighted content and selling Android-powered boxes that support apps for this purpose. The issue of distributing copyrighted content has caused a great deal of havoc for the XBMC Foundation, the group of developers behind Kodi because of how it can be used to get copyrighted material via third-party apps. A court case in New York focused on a company that sold Android boxes that distributed Asian TV content without permission.
Other examples of crackdowns of this nature include a court case in New York focused on a company that sold Android boxes that distributed Asian TV content without permission from the rights holders, in this case, Dish Network.
Roku has not released any statement on the issue outside of a message on the channel explaining that it has been taken down. But it is understandable that the company would want to avoid being associated with the illegal distribution of copyrighted material. The company has spent years cultivating relationships with video services starting with Netflix and expanding to include over 5000 services from small churches to major media players like HBO.
Private channels have been a part of Roku for years and have included some big names. For instance, users once accessed a user-created version non-official version of YouTube via private channels before it became an official Roku channel. PlayOn, a server-based program similar to Plex only recently launched on Roku after years as a private channel. FilmOn as well had been a private channel before its debut on Roku as “FOTV”. Numerous smaller channels have gone this route as they work on their offerings and interface.
A number of people have speculated that Roku has focused on rooting out copyright violators because of a court case in Mexico that caused sales Rokus to be banned in the country. Mexican authories asked that Roku “Better supervise the use of its software so that it’s not used inappropriately.” Unlike the various cases against sellers and app distributors, Roku though has never advertised as a way to get licensed content from nefarious sources.
Unlike the various cases against sellers and app distributors, Roku though has never advertised as a way to get licensed content from nefarious sources. Many people in fact have said of Roku that unlike some products that you have to pay for everything. That is not a true statement either as Roku has lots of content for free which has been further highlighted with “The Roku Channel” which pulls hollywood hits from free sources into one place.
There will always be a demand for services that provide content that they have no right to distribute. Some people are caught unaware by companies that even charge a subscription fee for content which gives them a look of a licensed service. Just so you know, if someone is offering HBO and Showtime and ESPN for less than the cost of Netflix and HBO Now they are not paying for the rights. People should keep in mind that while the biggest names in the TV and movie business may fly first class and live in mansions, the majority of people who work in the television industry are regular people who clock in and out just like the rest of us. They are caterers, makeup artists, editors, camera operators and even actors who don’t adorn the covers of magazines. Do you think that the person who gets killed in the first minutes of a weekly crime drama is a billionaire? If people felt that Ford made too much money and started stealing cars all over the country car lots would suffer and sales people would lose out, if people decided that Amazon made too much money and started raiding whole foods bc they want fresh fruit and fancy yougurt for free the employees at stores would suffer.
This gravy train is coming to an end quiker than people think it is. The people behind these sites and services will continue to be targetted and will not have the sort of legal muscle to tangle with Cable giants and movie studios. And while there is this feeling of innevitability as expressed on message boards and comments after stories that something new will pop up and such, ask yourself how much you are willing to risk to run an app that can get you arrested so that someone who you don’t know can watch Wonder Woman for free instead of getting it from Redbox for 2 dollars.