Streaming companies and major film studios have joined forces to sue TickBox, the company behind TickBox TV, a device that offers its users easy access to free online content. The complaint filed on Friday, October 13 by companies such as Universal, Disney, Hulu and Netflix, has alleged that TickBox sells “illegal access to Plaintiff’s copyrighted content” by encouraging its users to use TickBox TV to find a way to view copyrighted content for free.
Though TickBox has written a disclaimer on the bottom of their home page stating that “”TickBox TV should not be utilized to download or stream any copyrighted content without permission from the copyright holder”, Law360 reported that TickBox TV explicitly offered a search category for users in order to facilitate access to movies that were currently in theaters and not legally available for on-demand distribution. Moreover, while TickBox also claimed that they “prohibit the use of material for any purpose for other than that which it is intended and lawful,” the company also advertised to its users that it could act as a replacement for lawful streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video, sites that contained exclusive streaming content. TickBox stated that while it’s users can still use those streaming sites, they believe that “’within a few days of using Tickbox TV™,” their customers will find that they “no longer need those subscriptions.”
While TickBox hasn’t formally responded to the complaint, the FAQ section of their website gave some insight into what arguments they might present as a defense. In response to a question on the legality of their service, the company stated that “[TickBox] does not archive, host, store or distribute any kind of media or content,” as it’s meant to be a directory for its users to access content hosted by third parties on the internet. TickBox further noted as a disclaimer that they only offer a “base android 6.0 media center box” and have no apps installed that would “infringe upon any company’s copyright.” However, in their instruction manual, they gave directions to its users on how to install apps that could infringe on a company’s copyright.
TorrentFreak, a piracy news site, reported that this was the first time media companies have taken action against a streaming device. Amazon’s Content Services was a notable addition to this lawsuit as its parent company, Amazon Inc. currently engages in e-commerce of similar streaming devices that also advertise apps that could be used to illegally access copyrighted content.
Adele Zhang is an Entertainment Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2020).