Kodi has launched a scathing attack on “trademark trolls” who it claims are trying to charge people for using the popular software.
Kodi, which enables people to download and stream media content on their TV, is free of charge.
However, people are “trademark trolls” have registered the Kodi name as their own and are using it to cash in on the software, Kodi revealed in a blog post.
Kodi says the “trolls” are sending threatening letters demanding money from people selling devices in order to get them removed from retail sites on the grounds of copyright infringement – oh the irony!
The team behind the Kodi software have warned that users need to be “prepared for the future, as we move forward in defending the freedom of this software that we all take for granted.”
According to Kodi community and project manager Nathan Betzen the problem isn’t new and first started in 2014 when the original “XBMC” software was renamed “Kodi”.
“A number of individuals with what appear to be less than altruistic motives”, following the name change, “attempted to register the Kodi name in various countries outside the United States with the goal of earning money off the Kodi name without doing any work beyond sending threatening letters, Mr Betzen explained.
“We are not entirely sure why the name change prompted this behavior. When we went by XBMC, nobody ever did the trademark squatting thing. So when it started happening with the Kodi name, we were caught flatfooted without any real plan for dealing with these trolls or even tracking their actions.”
In its blog, Kodi names one of the “trademark trolls” which it says has so far not agreed to hand over the rights to the Kodi name.
It claims that a man by the name of Geoff Gavora is blackmailing hardware vendors who supply devices with the Kodi software in Canada.
Gavora has registered the Kodi name in Canada and is using this as a means to remove all other vendors from selling devices on Amazon.
“We want to let the users know that in some countries, trademark trolls are actively trying to make Kodi no longer free. By this we mean that today any user can take a clean and untouched copy of Kodi and distribute it however they please. Sell hardware with it installed. Give it away on USB sticks or online. Or, heck, a person could even sell it if they wanted to. As long as users follow our basic trademark requirements, they can do with Kodi as they please. Trademark trolls want to stop this,” said Mr Betzen.
“Now, if you do a search for Kodi on Amazon.ca, there’s a very real chance that every box you see is giving Gavora money to advertise that they can run what should be the entirely free and open Kodi. Gavora and his company are behaving in true trademark troll fashion,” Mr Betzen said.
“While our goal has always been to avoid going to the court to ensure Kodi remains free in countries where trolls are attempting to get rich off of the Kodi name, we will not back down from protecting the free, open source nature of our software. If that time comes for legal action, we hope to have the community’s support,” Mr Betzen added.
This latest news is yet more negative headlines for the controversial software, which while legal is associated with online piracy and can be used to access copyrighted content.
Earlier this year a number of popular Kodi add-on sites shut down without warning following legal battle with a broadcaster in the US.