Government domain seizure notice on Kodi TV was April Fools’ prank

On Friday March 31 and part of April 1, visitors to kodi.tv saw a US government domain seizure notice as grabbed by the Wayback Machine. It featured logos of the Department of Justice, National Intellectual Property Rights and Homeland Security Investigations above the following message:

This domain name has been seized by ICE – Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court under the authority of 18 U.S.C 981 and 2323.

Willful copyright infringement is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine forfeiture and restitution (17 U.S.C 506, 18 U.S.C 2319). Intentionally and knowingly trafficking in counterfeit goods is a federal crime that carries penalties for first time offenders of up to ten years in federal prison, a $2,000,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution (18 U.S.C 2320)

On March 31, KodiTV tweeted, “We are looking into it. Nobody panic.”

One particularly snarky person demanded a “refund,” claiming a fully loaded Kodi cost him $30. In response, @KodiTV tweeted:

We will be sure to issue refunds to everyone who bought their “fully loaded” hardware from us. It only seems fair.

If you know anything about Kodi at all, then you know the open source software is free and Kodi doesn’t provide fully loaded boxes; it’s a media hub that people can tweak to their liking, although the Kodi team has claimed that fully loaded piracy box sellers are killing Kodi.

Later in the day on April 1, Kodi admitted that the domain seizure message had been fake, an April Fools’ prank, while kodi.tv and addons.kodi.tv were revamped.

“Apologies if we scared you,” the post began before explaining, “Despite the ‘seized-and-offline’ gag, there’s a serious message here. It is genuinely true that we’re facing a constant tidal wave of piracy boxes, trademark infringements and erroneous (or outright misleading) news reports. Hardly a day goes past without the Kodi brand getting dragged into the mud somewhere.”

The article talks about the enormous amount of risks that third-party add-ons can bring.

They leech off our infrastructure, from which they make money while we – you – pay for it from your donations. They create significant privacy risks, given the access they have to your system. They can be updated remotely and made to execute code as part of what can only be viewed as a botnet.

When third-party add-ons break as a result of something the Kodi developers changed, it “leads to howls of protest from people who maybe didn’t even realize what they were doing. And all that’s before you get to any legal or moral position on streaming or downloading unlicensed content.”

So, let’s be clear: Kodi does not provide content. It never has, and it never will. However, in the spirit and freedom of open source, we make no limitations on what other people choose to do with the program. We cannot morally or legally prevent people from modifying the code or shipping it with whatever hidden dangers they choose to: all we can do is defend our trademark and keep our own house (this site and forum) clean.

The people working on Kodi are volunteers, but the project is not always fun; they would happily except more volunteers as they continue to make Kodi “the best media hub in the industry.” Additionally, the group would love for content providers to be more supportive, so Kodi can “defeat the piracy add-ons with superior, legitimate sources.”

As for the new website, instead of updating WordPress, Kodi switched to Drupal and uses Acquia for cloud hosting. If you were stuck in limbo while the site went poof, you can now download the many flavors of Kodi, denoted as “choose your weapon,” and Kodi add-ons too.

While the site and download server were down, TVAddons filled the void by providing links to mirrored working Kodi downloads and a how-to for the Fusion installer – which acts as a “bridge between Kodi and the world of unofficial Kodi add-ons.” The site hoped it wasn’t ruining an epic Kodi April Fools’ prank, “but Kodi is like a drug for some people out there, someone’s gotta get them their fix!”

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