TickBox, a streaming video platform, suffered a major setback on Tuesday as a federal judge issued an injunction intended to block the company from providing copyrighted content.
The six major studios, plus Netflix and Amazon, filed suit in October as part of a broader crackdown on OTT devices that use Kodi addon software. The studios also sought a preliminary injunction that would force TickBox to impound all the devices it has sold, effectively shuttering the company.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Michael Fitzgerald did not go as far as the studios wanted. TickBox contends that it has already removed the infringing addons from its device, and Fitzgerald’s order requires only that the company maintain the status quo.
But in his order, Fitzgerald also rejects TickBox’s primary line of defense — that is merely a hardware company, and is no more responsible for copyright infringement than any other computer manufacturer. Fitzgerald notes that TickBox advertised its product as a means to “cut the cord,” and explicitly offered access to live sports, Hollywood movies and other copyrighted material. The company also offered users step-by-step instructions on downloading the requisite software.
“There is sufficient evidence that the Device can be and is used to access infringing content, and there is sufficient evidence of TickBox’s fault – primarily in the form of its advertisements and customer-support efforts,” Fitzgerald writes. “TickBox may be held responsible for the instances of infringement that would not have otherwise occurred in the absence of the Device.”
In opposing the studios’ motion for an injunction, TickBox argued that it would put the company out of business. Fitzgerald issued the preliminary injunction and then urged both sides to agree to a further injunction that would bar the distribution of copyrighted material while allowing TickBox to continue any non-infringing activity.
“Assuming the Device is useful for purposes other than accessing infringing content, an injunction of this scope will not ‘shut down Defendant’s business’ as TickBox contends,” Fitzgerald writes. “In the event that such an injunction does shut TickBox down, that will be indicative not of an unjustifiably burdensome injunction, but of a nonviable business model.”
The six major studios that form the Motion Picture Association of America have joined with Netflix and Amazon to fight piracy under the banner of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment. Following the TickBox suit, the group also filed suit earlier this month against the makers of the Dragon Box, a similar device.
That case is also pending in Fitzgerald’s court.