District Court Offers Split Verdict in TickBox Infringement Case

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Both sides were able to claim victory yesterday, as a U.S. District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against TickBox TV, maker of a hardware device that is used to facilitate video piracy. The ruling from judge Michael Fitzgerald stops Georgia-based TickBox TV from encouraging its customers to use its devices to stream copyright-protected material for free, but doesn't stop devices sales or offer any restitution to the studios that brought the court case.

TickBox devices are often used to run open source media player software from Kodi, as well as other software that lets owners stream pirated content for free. While TickBox doesn't create this software, it did in the past market its devices as a way to get around paying for cable, and it provided links to apps and add-ons that enabled piracy.

A group of studios including Netflix, Amazon, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Disney, Columbia, Universal, and Warner Bros. brought a lawsuit against TickBox in October 2017. In December, TickBox chief executive Jeffrey Goldstein told the court it now only directs owners to legal streaming services.

Judge Fitzgerald ordered TickBox to keep with those changes—maintaining a new version of its user interface that doesn't include links to pirate add-ons—but didn't stop hardware sales since the device has legal uses. While the LA Times called this "a major legal blow to TickBox TV," in its coverage, it's hard to see that as even remotely true. The company can still sell its hardware and plenty of non-affiliated sites will tell owners how to install software that accesses copyrighted material.

This case isn't over, as the judge ordered both sides to try to find an agreement on the issue of themes and add-ons, including possibly removing infringing software previously loaded on TickBox devices, by February 7.

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