Cable providers have been fighting an uphill battle to stay relevant ever since torrenting and streaming became a thing. These days, the battle is between these cable companies and free alternatives. It just so happens that these free alternatives walk a fine line in terms of their legality.
People are turning to Android TV boxes that provide free access to stream virtually any TV or movie you can think of. Products like the Droid Box, Amazon’s Fire Stick, and Roku can be jailbroken and loaded with these free streaming services. Once you have them, you will gain access to any type of media you can think of.
What Are Android TV Boxes?
The original intent of these Android TV boxes are to allow people to connect to various apps like Netflix, Hulu, and different TV networks, however, these boxes are being exploited to allow users to access more than what they were intended to be able to stream. The tough thing that these cable companies are facing is that people can stream everything for free.
Once connected, customers can watch movies, TV shows and even live sports for no charge. The only requirement is that they have high-speed Internet. The only downside that comes with these devices is the occasional buffering from slow connection speeds.
As long as you have the Internet speeds that can keep up with your streaming demands, there is no reason not to use one.
What Are Cable Companies Doing About It?
Cable companies fear the worst with these free streaming TV boxes. They know if they sit back and wait, this free option will only continue to grow in popularity. This is why they are using aggressive strategies to challenge the legality of these streaming sources.
Three cable Giants, Rogers, Bell, and Vidéotron are starting their offensive against 45 different Canadian companies. These companies are currently selling these Android boxes preloaded with the software in question that allows users to gain access to the free media.
They started their case and took it to federal court last June. They began their case with five retailers and have been slowly adding companies until they reached the 45 they are at now.
Do They Have a Case against Android Boxes?
It is very unlikely that this case will do much against the sale of Android boxes in general, however, there is a small chance that it could impact the retailer’s ability to sell boxes that come preloaded with the streaming software.
The hope is that this case will deter other companies from selling preloaded Android boxes. Users will still be able to load the software on the boxes on their own, however, an outcome like that is expected to reduce the number of people that are using the software significantly.
What Is the Impact of This Case?
Many people are saying that this court case is going to make a huge impact on people streaming on their devices and companies selling preloaded boxes. Even if they take down these 45, there will always be more companies that are will be offering these same products.
Patrick O’Rourke, a writer for the Toronto-based tech website MobileSyrup said he doesn’t think this case will change much. He thinks the only way to put up a fight against these free services is to offer a better product. For the cable companies, this means lowering prices for better quality and TV packages.
Is This Piracy?
There has always been a lot of gray area surrounding piracy. The act of downloading media through torrents has been met with strong legal resistance. When it comes to streaming, however, it gets even fuzzier.
The problem is that these boxes provide all of the same types of media that illegally downloading does. The difference is streaming allows you to play it from another source using your Internet connection.
When you download something, you are physically putting the file onto your device. When you stream something, the file never exists on your device.
That is the distinction that separates downloading and streaming under the term ‘piracy’.
This is what the cable companies are building a case against. They are arguing that providers that sell fully loaded Android boxes are partaking in copyright infringement.
Vincent Wesley from Montréal was one of the first people named in the court case. He was selling these preloaded boxes for as much is $250. He advertised his products, saying that it provided all types of media for free.
Since the court case was established, he was told to stop selling these boxes. He isn’t even allowed to talk about it on his YouTube channel. A temporary injunction was placed to block Wesley and others from continuing to sell their products while the court case is ongoing.
The Case from the Defendants Point of View
Wesley’s lawyer argued in court that these TV boxes should be placed in the same category as iPads and other tablets. You can access the same streaming services using iPads as you can with these TV boxes.
Just because it’s possible to use the TV boxes for illegal uses, doesn’t mean the device should be banned completely. Instead, the responsibility should be placed on the users and not the hardware.
His lawyer explained that the provider of these devices doesn’t force the users to do anything. Each individual makes their own choices on how they are going to use the hardware that they purchase.