Kodi add-ons that are widely used to illegally stream movies and TV shows could become a thing of the past thanks to proposed copyright laws.
Kodi continues to surge in popularity, with research suggesting the software is being used in more than five million UK homes.
Kodi software is not illegal, but unaffiliated developers can produce third-party add-ons that provide free access to pirated and illegal content.
These apps allow users to stream premium content, like paid-for live sports, the latest Hollywood movies and must-see TV shows for free.
The illegal Kodi add-ons are being targeted by ISPs, government agencies, broadcasters and rights holders.
And proposed copyright laws currently being looked at in Brussels could change how illegal streaming works forever.
In September 2016 the European Commission (EC), the legislative arm of the European Union, published proposals on how to modernise copyright law.
And if the mooted Copyright Directive is enforced, then one specific measure will have a big impact on illegal streaming.
Article 13 of the suggested law puts the onus on online services to ensure content their users upload does not breach copyright.
Online services will be liable for content that breaches copyright unless “effective and proportionate” measures are enforced, TorrentFreak reported. In a document online the European Parliament said these measures include the use of “effective content recognition technologies”.
So, in essence – video sharing platforms need to ensure what gets uploaded to their sites is not in breach of copyright.
And if it does, it opens the door for rights holders to demand compensation.
An EC press release from September 2016 announcing the suggested law said: “The Copyright Directive aims to reinforce the position of right holders to negotiate and be remunerated for the online exploitation of their content on video-sharing platforms such as YouTube or Dailymotion.
“Such platforms will have an obligation to deploy effective means such as technology to automatically detect songs or audiovisual works which right holders have identified and agreed with the platforms either to authorise or remove.”
Illegal Kodi add-ons made by third party developers find and pull together pirated streams of movies and TV shows posted on the internet.
These pirated films that are ready for streaming would have been uploaded to some form of file or video sharing website.
The proposed European copyright law would hugely impact such sites, forcing them to check for any content that is pirated.
And with penalties for hosting pirated movies and TV shows so high, it may force sites that currently are home to such content to crack down on it.
If that’s the case, it would have a huge impact on the availability of illegal streams third-party Kodi add-ons can access.
In the next few weeks lawmakers in Brussels will be looking at these proposed copyright laws and voting on it.
Last month the European Council finalised the latest version of the Copyright Directive.
It’s now going to Brussels’s Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliament (JURI) who will decide how to move ahead.
Julia Reda, an MEP for the Pirate Party, underlined the huge impact such proposals could have.
Speaking to TorrentFreak, she said: “The proposal would require platforms to filter all uploads by their users for potential copyright infringements – not just YouTube and Facebook, but also services like WordPress, TripAdvisor, or even Tinder.
“We know from experience that these algorithmic filters regularly make mistakes and lead to the mass deletion of legal uploads.
“Especially small independent creators frequently see their content taken down because others wrongfully claim copyright on their works.
“There are no safeguards in the proposal against such cases of copyfraud.”
And speaking to Express.co.uk, a European Commission spokesperson said: “The basis of our copyright proposals is that people should be able to make a living from their creative ideas.
“Our proposals also take into account technological developments that help, first, authors to be informed and to prevent their works from being used online without their consent by major online platforms, and second, to ensure fair remuneration of their works.”
The European Digital Rights (EDRi) advocacy group said Brussels lawmakers will vote on the suggested copyright law on June 20 and June 21.