Home Addon Development Beware of Kodi Addons “Phoning Home” With Scraped Streaming Links

Beware of Kodi Addons “Phoning Home” With Scraped Streaming Links

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It has come to our attention that the popular Kodi addon known as Gaia has recently pushed a new feature called Orion, which “phones home” with streaming links scraped by end users. Orion had started out as a paid feature which retrieved streaming links from a centralized database, populated by other paid users.

While we have always been against these kinds of paid services, we were not as alarmed as we are currently. We had hoped that paying users would at least be made more aware of how their system works.

However, Orion now appears to be offering a free version of their service, which is likely being used by thousands of unsuspecting Kodi users. Users signing up for the free service are doing so in hopes that they’ll find the latest episode of their favourite TV show, and not realizing the potential risks.

Until now, we have not heard of any case of Kodi end users being sued for copyright infringement. This is because until now, Kodi addons have been mostly used to scrape external web sites from which the addon developers have no association. Users were never “contributing” to piracy, but merely “leeching” content.

As soon as an end users contributes to the infringement taking place, the situation becomes similar to that of the torrent world. For years, copyright bullies have been filing lawsuits against torrent users. We’re talking regular users, many of whom probably only downloaded a single file in their lives.

The worry is that by having end users automatically contribute links they scrape to the Orion database, they could be considered distributors under the law. This could open certain regular Kodi users to significant liability, possibly fines in the tens of thousands.

We’re not trying to shame anyone, we simply hope that the Orion team will at least make the risks more clear upfront. We don’t believe that they are acting with malicious intent, however we do feel that they might be somewhat naive about the threat involved in the type of service they’re running.

If their servers or administrators were to be compromised, there’s no telling how much personal identifying information related to sharing of streaming links could be found. Copyright bullies are looking for a way to scare end users from using Kodi, and a target like Orion could be exactly what would give them the news coverage they’re looking for.

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