Bell, Rogers, Videotron Fight ‘Free TV’ Android Box Vendors in Court

Bell, Rogers and Videotron have launched a court battle against sellers of Android boxes advertising ‘free TV’, winning a temporary injunction to stop five vendors from selling the hardware.

The hardware runs Android OS, with Kodi (formerly XBMC) installed, allowing users to access various pirated streaming TV, movies and more without paying, available starting at $42 on Amazon.ca or on Craigslist for about $100.

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The three media giants alleged “there is a serious issue to be tried” over “copyright infringement by the defendants,” alleging the devices are sold for illegal purposes, therefore causing “irreparable harm” to their business.

CBC News reports an unnamed source believes a sixth defendant will be added to the case, and that “I think they went after those five because they could get a quick injunction,” saying “Then they’re going to widen it across the country to shut it down as best they can,” and “They’re trying to eliminate the market by getting these injunctions.”

The companies MtlFreeTV, iTVBox, Android Bros Sales, WatchNSaveNow and My Electronics are named in the court case, which detailed the vendors advertised the boxes as a way to watch cable TV for free.

Only Quebec-based MTLFreeTV was present at the injunction hearing, with owner Vincent Wesley defending his business by saying the boxes are only “a piece of hardware” with freely available software installed.

Judge Danièle Tremblay-Lamer of the Federal Court in Ottawa disagreed, and ruled the sellers “deliberately encourage consumers and potential clients to circumvent authorized ways of accessing content.”

Wesley’s lawyer will appeal the ruling, saying “The vendor doesn’t control or authorize what users do, or what software providers enable users to do.”

Rogers told the CBC “This is a case of obvious piracy and the court made the right decision,” while Bell noted cable companies “invest hundreds of millions of dollars each year” to offer TV content to Canadians, applauding the court’s ruling.

Bell added “Enabling free and illegal access to copyrighted content with these boxes negatively impacts the entire Canadian content production industry.”

Rogers, Bell and Videotron tried to ban every Android box vendor, but Judge Tremblay-Lamer disagreed, saying other defendants could be added to the case if need be. The judge also noted the sellers would not have the financial resources to pay the cable giants for lost revenue.

It’s no surprise these media companies would target these Android box sellers, especially when they’re blatantly advertising how to watch cable TV illegally. High prices for cable–which is declining–has created a market for workarounds like these. Other users have also been using HD antennas to acquire 1080 TV streams over-the-air, for free (using this link to determine what’s available).

For Apple users, it is also possible to sideload Kodi on your Apple TV 4 without jailbreaking. From here, users are able to watch various forms of media on their Apple TV, and also add streaming video feeds.

Anyone out there using an Android box?

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • geekyaleks

    I am using a Mygica box – it’s fantastic. Made in Taiwan, I notice that it is not listed as one of the boxes the “robbers” are going after…

  • jabohn

    “For Apple users, it is also possible to sideload Kodi on your Apple TV 4 without jailbreaking.”

    It’s also possible to buy MrMC which is basically Kodi but it’s available in the app store to purchase. It will work better for most people and is being actively updated and will likely eventually replace Kodi.

  • Jason

    I have installed Kodi on ATV 4 but I don’t use it. Really not educated in the Kodi community. Not sure what build to install etc. There are always new builds available and i find it overwhelming at times.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    There is more to Android Boxes than KODI. About 90% of my usage is HopWatch and YouTube.

  • Tim

    I just use my laptop for Kodi with IPTVSubs.

  • Jack

    This is crazy. Kodi by itself is just a media streaming program. It’s the add-ons from third parties that provide content. It is stupid to go after Android box suppliers for this content that they don’t own and control and if the judge agrees with banning their sales, I don’t know what to say. You can always convert an old PC by installing OPENelec, and you have an android box.

  • aaloo

    There is one such vendor selling boxes at our local mall, with big Hollywood style posters for movies and tv shows. They obviously have no permission to use those posters to sell their hardware. At the end of the day, the content being streamed is being done so illegally, like the popcorn time. Big cable companies are sleepy bastards, but this illegally streaming is wrong as well.

  • Dave Van De Cappelle

    I have KODI running on a Laptop hooked to my HD TV. I watch no Canadian channels on it, I watch channels I cannot get in a Bell or Rogers feed, like ESPN or NBCSN or Fox Sports 1 or Tru TV channel or Movies, when I want, uncut commercial free. I have an Antenna, I bought it off Ebay for 70 dollars delivered to my door, it took a 10 dollar 1 inch pipe to mount it on my old satellite dish bracket. I watch NO union sports, if a union is involved, not a chance.I watch NASCAR Sprint cup races and rodeo events, most of which the big Canadian carriers do not carry since the race channel went away