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21st of January 2018

Technology



Netflix, Amazon, and major studios sue maker of “free TV” box

EnlargeThe Dragon Box

Netflix, Amazon, and the major film studios have sued the makers of "The Dragon Box," a device that connects to TVs and lets users watch video without a cable TV or streaming service subscription.

Joining Netflix and Amazon as plaintiffs in the suit are Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros. The suit asks for financial damages and an injunction preventing Dragon Media from continuing the alleged copyright infringement.

"Defendants sell illegal access to Plaintiffs' Copyrighted Works," the complaint says. (Hat tip to DSLReports.) "Dragon Box uses software to link its customers to infringing content on the Internet. When used as Defendants intend and instruct, Dragon Box gives Defendants' customers access to multiple sources that stream Plaintiffs' Copyrighted Works without authorization. These streams are illegal public performances of Plaintiffs' Copyrighted Works."

The complaint was filed Wednesday in US District Court for the Central District of California.

The Dragon Box uses Kodi and Android software to help users access video, and the Dragon Box website says the device "acts merely as an index (or directory) of media posted by other enthusiasts on the Internet, which is completely outside of our control."

A Dragon Box.Enlarge / A Dragon Box.The Dragon Box

"The Dragon Box respects the rights of others, and prohibits the use of referenced material for any purpose other than that for which it is intended (where such use is lawful and free of civil liability or other constraint) and in such circumstances where possession of such material may have any adverse financial, prejudicial or any other effect on any other third party," the Dragon Box site also says.

Dragon software allegedly facilitates piracy

But the lawsuit alleges that Dragon Box takes a more direct role in giving users access to pirated content. The complaint says:

When a customer selects "DRAGON MEDIA" for the first time, the device prompts the customer to download the "DragonBox" software. After clicking through the guided "Media Setup," the device downloads and installs the latest version of Dragon Media.

Once the Dragon Media software application has been downloaded and installed onto the Dragon Box device, the customer is presented a multi-page home screen that presents the customer with categories to select. These categories include "Sports," "4Kids," "Videos," "IPTV," and "TV Shows," among others... In total, Defendants provide customers with over 80 add-ons as part of their suite of Dragon Media add-ons to access all of the "Unlimited Shows, Movies, [and] Live Sporting events."

The Dragon Box is marketed explicitly as a means to watch video without paying for anything but the box, the lawsuit also says. "Defendants promote the device as the means to 'cut your cable & save money,' and encourage customers to 'Get rid of your Premium Channels… [and] Stop paying for Netflix and Hulu,'" the complaint says. Customers can access “Free TV Shows commercial free from season one," the company also tells customers.

Dragon Media gives each Dragon Box customer "a user login and password to access 'Area-51 IPTV,'" an add-on that "can stream live television channels, including premium cable television networks and sports networks," the complaint said.

Dragon Box customers can also watch sports and movies while they're still in theaters, the suit says.

A Dragon Box ad.A Dragon Box ad.The Dragon Box

We left a phone message about the lawsuit with the Dragon Box corporate headquarters today and will update this story if we get a response.

Defendants in the case are Dragon Media Inc.; Dragon Media owner Paul Christoforo; and Jeff Williams, operator of a Dragon Box reseller.

"We have been in business now for 6 years and have over 250,000 customers in 50 states and 4 countries and growing," Dragon Media said in a recent Facebook post. The lawsuit says Dragon Box distributors and resellers have made millions of dollars. The devices generally cost about $350.

Pirate TV impact on video industry

Netflix, Amazon, and the movie studios also recently filed a similar lawsuit against the makers of the similar TickBox device.

TV piracy services are being used by about 6.5 percent of North American households with broadband access, potentially costing legitimate TV providers billions of dollars a year, a recent analysis by Sandvine found.

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