Roku has started to put restrictions in place for private channels that contain pirated content as a part of a wider effort to clamp down on illegal activities that involve the distribution of premium content without permission from the owner or publisher. The streaming set top box manufacturer is now displaying a warning about what it describes as non-certified channels whenever a user subscribes to a private channel that is not included in Roku’s offering, meaning that there is a possibility that it may contain illegal content. Roku goes on to notify users that the channel in question could be removed at any time in the future for violating intellectual property laws.
While Roku does not explicitly give its users the permission to distribute or watch illegal or abusive content on its platform, some private channels can be installed to provide content that does not have to be necessarily visible on Roku’s service. According to reports quoting the handler of Roku's Twitter account in the United Kingdom, the warning message shows up every time a user tries to enter the code intended to install and access a private channel. Keep in mind, though, that Roku remains a provider of legitimate content despite the proliferation of pirated items on its platform.
Like Roku, Kodi is also plagued by rampant distribution of premium TV shows, movies, and live sports through its add-ons, which consequently allow viewers to watch those contents without having to pay for subscription fees. The issue has prompted American satellite and cable provider Dish Network to file a copyright infringement lawsuit that resulted in the cessation of several Kodi add-ons, most of which are widely used to gain free access to premium content. One of those add-ons include Phoenix, though its developer refused to disclose the specific reason for the shutdown of the service. This June, the chief of Britain’s intellectual property watchdog called the Federation Against Copyright Theft warned that Kodi customers who use illegal add-ons could face prosecution in the United Kingdom for breaking copyright laws in the country. The organization has since expanded the scope of its crackdown effort. It now remains to be seen how Roku’s move to help put a stop on illegal content distribution could aid in that effort.