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SELECTED 2013-2017

Is It Illegal to Jailbreak a Fire Stick or Receive Jailbroken Programming?

Greetings, pirates and potential pirates. We have been recently asked, “Is It Illegal to Jailbreak an Amazon Fire Stick or Receive Jailbroken Programming?” The easy answer is nothing in life is free.. or at least it is not once you get caught.

There has always been a “jailbreak” to getting free TV

I will be honest. I didn’t know what an Amazon Fire TV Stick was before starting this blog. However, I get the concept. As long as there has been television, there have been attempts to obtain pay television channels for free. I distinctly remember the descrambler. Before digital transmissions, television channels used to be locked with waves you couldn’t see through. For those rogue enough to have a descrambler, those images would be set right so you could watch satellite and cable television channels otherwise reserved for paying customers. After that, there were computer tricks and re-coded cards which had the ability to unlock devices.

Manufacturer’s Disclaimer

Now, it seems the Fire Stick is the latest way to unlock certain television channels, pay-per-view events and more. Amazon has been very public warning people not to use their devices for illegal activity. They have to. Device add-ons, such as Kodi, are added which essentially is the software media center. It is also innocent in and of itself. Don’t believe me, just ask Kodi, who says all the right things to deny using its system to obtain paid content without paying:

There have been a wave of sellers who decided to make a quick buck modifying Kodi, installing broken piracy addons, advertising that Kodi lets you watch free movies and TV, and then vanishing when the user buys the box and finds out that the addon they were sold on was a crummy, constantly breaking mess. These sellers are dragging users into the world of piracy without their knowledge and at the same time convincing new users that Kodi is a buggy mess, because they never differentiate Kodi from 3rd party addons. Every day a new user shows up on the Kodi forum, totally unaware that the free movies they’re watching have been pirated and surprised to discover that Kodi itself isn’t providing those movies.

With the Amazon Fire TV Stick, consumers no longer have to connect their laptops to their television or have a smart TV to watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon video and premium channels like HBO or Showtime. It makes any television able to access content from the internet and use media centers like Kodi or torrent services to obtain content via the internet.

With a little computer programming, one can apparently bypass the requirements that you pay for these services, shows and movies.

The Risks of Jailbreaking versus the Risks of Using a Jailbroken Device

 

The person using the jailbroken device faces vastly more legal liability.

Some are using these devices linked to their own Amazon or traceable internet accounts. This can also present a clear, traceable fingerprint right to you. Some are using these devices while using their own IP address. This IP address is a clear, traceable fingerprint right to you. Your internet service provider (ISP) can also track data and how it comes and goes. Often, these requests require a court subpoena, so it isn’t necessarily convenient or easy to find the pirates. However, history has proven that even if you mask all of the information, the FBI (and its friends at movie and record companies) have found ways to stay ahead of piracy.

Here are the theories of liability:

Criminal Charges

Piracy is legally a form of stealing- it can be theft of content or theft of services, depending on what is taken. In the United States, the maximum criminal penalty for copyright infringement is a fine of up to $250,000 and a jail sentence of up to five years. This involves damages that are both monetary and confinement, as well as a criminal record. There are loads of stories on the internet of young and old being prosecuted for piracy.

Civil Claims / Copyright Infringement

The owner of copyrighted software may sue the infringer in a civil case. Since the piracy of copyrighted software leads to monetary losses to the production companies and media conglomerates, a civil lawsuit usually requires that the infringer pay for all losses resulting from the distribution and/or illegal copying of the software and any profits the violator made from it. By statute, the maximum civil penalty for copyright infringement is $150,000 per infringement. This means that for every single program or work that was illegally copied and/or distributed, the infringer could have to pay $150,000. As you can imagine, a civil suit may cost a violator millions of dollars. During the Napster days, entire lawfirms popped up to handle these cases.

The company selling “jailbroken” devices or modifying such devices becomes more difficult to analyze

It depends on what that company did, why it did it and what it knew or told the customer. Merely installing software may not lead to liability. However, if you are promoting your service to facilitate illegal activity or piracy, not only are you at risk, but the FBI or third parties could obtain your entire customer database and go after them as well.

 


We invite you to review our verdicts, our accolades and awards and what clients have to say about us and give us a call for a free consultation where our lawyers will consult with you personally.  John represents clients in Florida, Georgia and Alabama and before the U.S. Supreme Court with passion and compassion. Our firm handles a wide variety of injury and death cases, criminal defense, family law and a host of high profile matters. We can be emailed at help@floridajustice.com or call us at (904) 444-4444 in Florida or (912) 444-4444 in Georgia.