STREAMING SET TOP box maker Roku has warned users that 'pirate' channels should "not be trusted".
The company has begun cracking down on channels showing illegal content in the wake of the decision by many retailers, including Amazon, to remove so-called "fully loaded" Kodi boxes which were being sold with the explicit purpose of viewing content which should be chargeable, such as premiership football.
Every time a user installs a channel which isn't part of the official Roku lineup, they receive a message saying "THIS IS A NON-CERTIFIED CHANNEL" before it goes on to warn that the channel could disappear at any time and could be illegal and/or offensive.
Roku has never allowed pornographic or illegal content on its service, but there is an option to install what are known as "private channels" which offer services that are either in beta or for some other reason aren't being offered on the main service - our favourite is a webcam that shows two goats in their pen. Because why not?
It should be pointed out that the vast majority are completely legal - "private" and "pirate" are not interchangeable.
"We want to encourage our customers to be careful when adding channels to their Roku accounts, and we do not recommend, promote or encourage use of any channels not found in the Roku Channel Store," Roku said in an statement to INQ.
"Roku's policies prohibit streaming content on our platform without distribution rights from the copyright holder. We are actively cooperating with the content community and other rights holders in their efforts to combat piracy. Roku has a portal for reporting copyright violations. Whenever Roku determines that a channel on our platform is violating copyrights, we take action, which can include disabling the entire channel without notice.
"If Roku determines that any channel violates copyright, contains illegal content, or otherwise violates Roku's terms and conditions, then Roku may remove the channel without prior notice."
The curator of @ukrokuchannels, who keeps a blog and Twitter feed of new UK channels on Roku - both official and private, told the INQUIRER: "I'm personally not bothered by it... they [Roku] presumably need to be seen to be doing something following the recent court ruling banning sales and imports of their devices in Mexico after concerns over pirated content being streamed were raised by a cable company there.
"Thus far, it amounts to little more than a 'WARNING' message which pops-up whenever you apply an access code to add a private channel using the 'Add a channel' feature under the 'Manage Account' section of the Roku website. It's more of a pain (from my perspective) in that it currently appears EVERY TIME you enter a code.
"Personally, I'd prefer it if they just displayed it once... got you to acknowledge the contents... and then (at least) gave you the option not to display that same message again."
@ukrokuchannels adds: "Guess we'll have to wait and see if it amounts to any more than that... but, even if they did remove the feature from Roku, it would only "push" the peddlers of pirated content in other directions and on to other devices. I mean, where do you draw the line here? Shut down the whole internet and ban streaming? It's just not going to happen."
"I mean, where do you draw the line here? Shut down the whole internet and ban streaming? It's just not going to happen."
Although Roku offers one of the most comprehensive channel offerings of any streaming provider, it has fallen behind, at least in the UK. So far it has failed to bring its 4K Roku 4 product to these shores, while Google's Chromecast and Amazon's Fire Stick continue to forge ahead.
It is important to note that both Roku and Kodi are in and of themselves completely legitimate - it is certain users who are abusing them that break the law. µ
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