A few weeks ago MetalKettle, one of the most famous Kodi addon developers of recent times, decided to call it quits.
Worried about potential legal risks, he saw no other option than to halt all development of third-party Kodi addons.
Soon after this announcement, the developer proceeded to remove the GitHub account which was used to distribute his addons. However, he didn’t realize that this might not have been the best decision.
As it turns out, GitHub allows outsiders to re-register names of deleted accounts. While this might not be a problem in most cases, it can be disastrous when the accounts are connected to Kodi add-ons that are constantly pinging for new updates.
In essence, it means that the person who registered the Github account can load content onto the boxes of people who still have the MetalKettle repo installed. Quite a dangerous prospect, something MetalKettle realizes as well.
“Someone has re-registered metalkettle on github. So in theory could pollute any devices with the repo still installed,” he warned on Twitter.
“Warning : if any users have a metalkettle repo installed on their systems or within a build – please delete ASAP,” he added.
It’s not clear what the intentions of the new MetalKettle user are on GitHub, if he or she has any at all. But, people should be very cautious and probably remove it from their systems.
The real MetalKettle, meanwhile, alerted TVAddons to the situation and they have placed the repository on their Indigo blacklist of banned software. This effectively disables the repository on devices with Indigo installed.
GitHub on their turn may want to reconsider their removal policy. Perhaps it’s smarter to not make old usernames available for registration, at least not for a while, as it’s clearly a vulnerability.
This is also shown by another Kodi repo controversy that appeared earlier today. Another GitHub account that was reportedly deleted earlier, resurfaced today pushing a new version of the Exodus addon and other sources.
According to some, the GitHub account is operated by the original Exodus developers and perfectly safe, but others warn that the name was reregistered in bad faith.
Earlier this week, TF reported on the surprise retirement of established and respected Kodi addon developer, MetalKettle.
After several years of producing and distributing a wide range of addons for the popular media center, ‘MK’ threw in the towel.
“Over the past year or so Kodi has become more mainstream and public we’ve all seen the actions of others become highlighted legally, with authorities determined to target 3rd party addons making traction,” MK announced.
“This has eventually caused me to consider ‘what if?’ – the result of which never ends well in my mind.”
The “what if?” here is whether MK himself would ever find himself targeted by legal action. As the recent case filed against Kodi addons site TVAddons by Bell, Videotron, Groupe TVA, and Rogers shows, copyright holders are prepared to act aggressively to protect their rights.
While we don’t doubt MK’s reasons for retirement, it now transpires that MK was already in the spotlight of Plex Inc., the company behind Plex. They seem particularly unimpressed with some of his recent work.
Plex is a system which allows users to manage and organize their entire media library, import artwork and all kinds of metadata, and then stream it to any device, such as TVs, phones, and set-top boxes.
For people with content already around it’s a beautiful Netflix-beating system that’s free to use up to a point, but it also comes with premium features as part of a $5pm Plex Pass subscription. Those extras include a Kodi addon.
“Currently available as a preview to our premium Plex Pass subscribers, the Plex for Kodi add-on gives users the best of both worlds; the advanced customization of Kodi home theater and the beauty and simplicity of Plex for access on any device, anywhere, anytime,” the Plex site reads.
MK Plex, the addon produced by MetalKettle, unlocks the restrictions. Installable in Kodi with just a few clicks, the addon allows users of Plex to achieve the above without the need for a Plex Pass subscription. The addon was submitted by MK to the TVAddons repository last week but it took only days for Plex’s legal department to swing into action.
TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the company’s letter to TVAddons from a source close to the platform.
“We represent Plex, Inc. of Los Gatos, California, USA (‘Plex’) in trademark and other intellectual property legal matters. Plex recently learned that you offer a software product called MK Plex that is promoted on [your] website,” it begins.
“The designation MK Plex infringes on Plex’s intellectual property rights and therefore Plex hereby demands that you remove all web pages that use the designation MK Plex, delete all software branded MK Plex and disable all downloading, and cease all other use of Plex’s trademarks immediately.”
While this request would’ve been enough for TVAddons to respond, the lawyers went on in some detail about trademark issues, reiterating that “the designation ‘unofficial plugin’ indicates that your use of MK Plex is intended to trade on the reputation and goodwill of the Plex brand.”
In summary, Plex said that by presenting itself as an unofficial plug-in, MK Plex infringes trademark and unfair competition law in the United States. There was no mention at all of the features provided by the software, the entire issue was framed as a trademark dispute.
Plex’s lawyers continued by threatening formal legal action against TVAddons, including a claim for damages and a court order to shut down the entire site. That’s pretty aggressive for a letter that references an addon that was completely produced by a third-party. Nevertheless, TVAddons informs TF that it had no problem complying with Plex’s takedown request as a matter of urgency.
“We love Plex and would never do anything to cause them grief. The user generated addon in question should never have made its way into our repository in the first place and we apologize for that,” a site representative said.
“We’d like to stress, however, that we took swift action as soon as Plex made us aware of the issue. This is why it’s so important that all web sites with user generated institute a legitimate takedown notice system, so that issues like this can be amicably resolved much faster than they could be in court, without any harm done to either party. TV ADDONS has always and will continue to respect the rights of others.”
TVAddons doesn’t know if MK himself is fully aware of the problem Plex has with his addon or whether he’s going to put it into retirement along with himself. However, the undertone in our conversation indicated that might be a prudent course of action.
TVAddons said they responded immediately to all of Plex’s demands and were thanked for dealing with the matter comprehensively, so it’s at least possible that MK has similar options available.
While a trademark dispute for a Kodi addon is interesting enough, this case offers a perfect illustration of how problems with intellectual property can be worked through, if the parties are prepared to work together. In the ongoing case of the Canadian broadcasters against TVAddons, not a single takedown notice or piece of correspondence was sent to TVAddons in advance of super-aggressive legal action.
Had a simple email been sent, the problem could’ve been solved in a day, rather than the years currently expected.
After dominating the piracy landscape for more than a decade, BitTorrent now shares the accolades with web streaming. The latter is often easier to understand for novices, which has led to its meteoric rise.
Currently, software like Kodi grabs most of the headlines. The software is both free and legal but when it’s augmented with third-party addons, it’s transformed into a streaming piracy powerhouse. As a result, addon developers and distributors are coming under pressure these days.
Numerous cases are already underway, notably against addon repository TVAddons and the developer behind third-party addon ZemTV. Both are being sued in the United States by Dish Networks but the case filed against TVAddons in Canada is the most controversial. It’s already proven massively costly for its operator, who has been forced to ask the public for donations to keep up the fight.
With this backdrop of legal problems for prominent players, it’s no surprise that other people involved in the addon scene are considering their positions. This morning brings yet more news of retirement, with one of the most respected addon developers and distributors deciding to call it a day.
Over the past three to four years, the name MetalKettle has become synonymous not only with high-quality addons but also the MetalKettle addon repository, which was previously a leading go-to location for millions of Kodi users.
But now, ‘thanks’ to the increased profile of the Kodi addon scene, the entire operation will shrink away to avoid further negative attention. (Statement published verbatim)
“Over the past year or so Kodi has become more mainstream and public we’ve all seen the actions of others become highlighted legally, with authorities determined to target 3rd party addons making traction. This has eventually caused me to consider ‘what if?’ – the result of which never ends well in my mind,” MetalKettle writes.
“With all this said I have decided to actively give up 3rd party addon development (at least for the time being) and concentrate on being a husband and father.”
The news that MetalKettle will now fall silent will be sad news for the Kodi scene, after hosting plenty of addons over the years including UK Turks, UKTV Again, Xmovies8, Cartoons8, Toonmania, TV Mix, Sports Mix, Live Mix, Watch1080p, and MovieHut, to name just a few.
The distribution of these addons and others ultimately placed MetalKettles on the official Kodi repository blacklist, banned for providing access to premium content without authorization.
More recently, however, MetalKettle joined the Colossus Kodi repository but it seems likely that particular alliance will now come to an end. Whether other developers will take on any of the existing MetalKettle addons is unclear.
Signing off to his fans during the past few hours, MetalKettle (MK) thanked everyone for their support over the past several years.
“It’s much appreciated and made this all worthwhile,” MK said.
While plenty of people contribute to the Kodi scene, it can be quite a hostile environment for those who step out of line. The same cannot be said of MK, as evidenced by the outpouring of gratitude from his associates on Twitter.
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