The development team behind Kodi has detailed its ongoing fight against "trademark trolls" looking to profit from the open-source media player. The free software has reportedly been trademarked by individuals in some countries, who are then surreptitiously controlling the sale and distribution of Kodi software for financial gain.
In a blog post, Team Kodi revealed that trademark trolls in some regions have begun charging websites to host the completely free software, while others have targeted the sale of "Kodi Boxes" - media devices pre-loaded with the Kodi app.
The main example given relates to a Canadian citizen the team names as Geoff Gavora. According to Team Kodi, Gavora registered the Kodi trademark in Canada and is "actively blackmailing hardware vendors" by demanding Kodi Box sellers pay him for the privilege.
It notes that some companies, including Kodi sponsor Minix, have been delisted on Amazon's Canadian store at Gavora's request.
The team wrote: "There's a very real chance that every box you see [on Amazon.ca] is giving Gavora money to advertise that they can run what should be the entirely free and open Kodi."
Kodi's open-source ecosystem has opened the floodgates for piracy on a wider scale, with "Kodi Boxes" commonly sold with pre-installed illegal add-ons that stream premium TV, movies and sport for free. The sale of "pre-loaded Kodi Boxes" has led to numerous arrests in the UK in recent months, but Kodi itself is completely legal and free to distribute – a status the development team is keen to protect.
"First, we want to let the users know that in some countries, trademark trolls are actively trying to make Kodi no longer free," read the blog post. "By this we mean that today any user can take a clean and untouched copy of Kodi and distribute it however they please. Sell hardware with it installed. Give it away on USB sticks or online. Or, heck, a person could even sell it if they wanted to."
"As long as users follow our basic trademark requirements, they can do with Kodi as they please. Trademark trolls want to stop this. They want to make it so that if you want to distribute Kodi, you need to pay them a fee first."
"Heck, if they wanted to, they could try to prevent Team Kodi from distributing the software in their country by suing us for trademark infringement," the team explained.
Team Kodi also warns the trolls in questions that it has "caught on to this game", and is prepared to go to court over it.
"We will not back down from protecting the free, open source nature of our software. If that time comes for legal action, we hope to have the community's support," the team concluded.