Latest News

These subtitles are for S01E15 of STEAL THIS SHOW. Many thanks to JP for producing these! 
Jamie King:      So we invited three people to help us elucidate the KickAss Torrents takedown, what it means for the torrent world and peer-to-peer more generally. The first is Gary Fung; you’re a founder of one of the biggest torrent sites, isoHunt.com. Gary Fung:      Yes I am. It was a long time ago in 2003, while I was still in university. Back then, there was this huge site called SuprNova. It was a huge, huge site before The Pirate Bay had come along. Obviously, The Pirate Bay came on the scene, and then that became really big. Throughout this time, isoHunt always served as a search engine. So in a way, I don’t think of isoHunt as whether it was a big torrent site or not. Yes it was big, but it served as a search engine for any of these websites. Jamie King:     Our second guest is Andrew Norton, who has been involved with the Pirate Party at a variety of leadership levels. Give us a very quick rundown of your various Pirate Party affiliations Andy. Norton: I’m the former chairman of the US Pirate Party, the founder of Pirate Parties International, former governor of the UK Pirate Party, and also currently the community manager and research at TorrentFreak.com Jamie King:     And last, but certainly not least, Peter Sunde; one of founders The Pirate Bay. Pet. Sunde:     Yup! Jamie King:     How do you currently define what you are up to? Pet. Sunde:     Oh I mostly consider myself as an artist. Jamie King:     What is your favorite current artwork you’re working on? Pet. Sunde:     I can’t really talk about it, because if it gets public, it kind of destroys the artwork. Jamie King:     A super-secret Peter Sunde artwork? Pet. Sunde:     Always! I like having secrets. Jamie King:     Andy, could you fill us in? What’s happened, what’s the story around the KickAss Torrents case? Norton: On June 27th, the Northern District of Illinois (Eastern Division) sent down an indictment of a gentleman by the name of Artem Vaulin, who is a Ukrainian national who is located in Poland.  It is an indictment and criminal complaint for four separate counts of: Conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, money laundering, and other similar things including direct copyright infringement of more than $25,000 within a 180-day period. He has been indicted on those, and he was arrested in Poland, and is due to be extradited to the Northern District of Illinois, which is Chicago, to be- Jamie King:      That’s the jurisdiction of  Alicia Florrick… The Good Wife.... that’s set in Chicago, isn’t it? Pet. Sunde:     And then Peter Florrick is going to be the DA? Jamie King:     Yeah. Pet. Sunde:     Then they could know what’s in store for them, that’s fine, Jamie King:     It’s like a kind of first; they tried to do this with Kim Dotcom. They tried to extradite him to the United States to face crimes against copyright. Pet. Sunde:     They’re still trying to though, that’s the thing. They’re still trying to.  I don’t think that it will be the same with the KickAss Torrents guy because he does not want to be in the public media, he is not interested in that. Otherwise, he would’ve done that ages ago when people were asking. Jamie King:     What I’m curious about is any similarities you see between what’s happened with KickAss Torrents, you, with The Pirate Bay. I mean from your experience, are there any things that seem similar about the approach that’s being used with the actions against KickAss Torrents and the approach that was used against isoHunt? Gary Fung:      I definitely see similarity between The Pirate Bay and KickAss Torrents, less similarity with isoHunt. I was fortunate in a sense that the case brought against me was civil and not criminal in nature; whereas the ones that were fought against of The Pirate Bay and KickAss Torrents, those were criminal. Jamie King:     And why do you think they’ve both received criminal cases and you got a civil? Yours was restricted to a civil suit? Gary Fung:      Honestly, I think (I’m not a lawyer) it kind of beats me in terms of what happened there. But I think for one, it was a difference in jurisdiction that The Pirate Bay was sued in Sweden, while KickAss Torrents- the person running the site was arrested in Poland. So I’m not sure whether they’re suing him under Polish law or Ukrainian law, whatever it is; but it is definitely not under US law.  We have a somewhat ironic situation where Hollywood is suing someone in a foreign country, and somehow that entitles them to a criminal case. While suing in the United States, locally to them, actually turns out to be a civil case. Jamie King:     And Peter, what’s your take on this? Because I mean you were subject to a criminal case of The Pirate Bay right? Pet. Sunde:     Yeah. Jamie King:     And you served time, all of you served prison time. Pet. Sunde:     Yeah. Jamie King:     And why do you think, while you had a criminal case, and you were charged and served time in Sweden, this guy is being extradited to the States? Pet. Sunde:     First of all, I think that we were much more public, so it would be much harder for that to happen because we were protected by the publicity around the case. In the KickAss Torrents case, he is much more anonymous, and not a public person. So it is like one of these guys from Megaupload also went from the Netherlands to the United States, and served time, and then got kicked out. So maybe that’s because we had our faces out there, we were public, and it was very political like we were in that for or I was in that for politics, for ideology. I think it’s a very different type of case for that reason. Jamie King:     Because in 2006, when you had that first raid against The Pirate Bay, one of the big pieces of news that came out around that, was that the raid was in least in part the consequence of threats from the US Trade Department against the Swedish government saying, you’ll be put on this watch list –this trade sanctions watch list– if you don’t do something about The Pirate Bay. The case was seen in this trans-national way, but I guess that they decided Sweden was a competent jurisdiction to carry that out; whereas maybe Poland or Ukraine, not so much. Pet. Sunde:     Well it was definitely the United States behind the raid; we know that the Swedish prosecutor actually said that The Pirate Bay was legal in Sweden. So he didn’t want to prosecute: he had to because of the pressure from the United States, so it is very different. But I also think that they had a different outcome in mind, and that when there was a raid against The Pirate Bay, it would shut down and everything would be fine, and the opposite happened. It became much more popular after that, and I think that is the worry they have that if they do the same thing now, that they don’t take away everything and just threaten people and make people really scared of doing things like this, they are going to have more cases like this on their hands. So I think that’s the reason why they really want him to be extradited to the United States, for the same reason as for the casinos and so on, because they want to scare people like the long arm of the United States law can reach anyone, anywhere; kind of the motto they want to get across. Jamie King:     It seems very unlikely that the United States would attempt to extradite a citizen from Canada to the United States to face trial for running a torrent site. It seems equally unlikely to me, although maybe not impossible given what’s been going on with Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks situation in Sweden, that a citizen could be extradited from Sweden to face trial in the United States. I think I remember that there was a case in the UK of a guy who had a file-host linking site that they try to extradite him, Richard O’Dwyer? Norton: He eventually didn’t get extradited, I think that the current Prime Minister Theresa May intervened and decided not to push forward with that. That’s the one thing, but Poland isn’t the UK and the extradition laws are a bit different. Jamie King:     Which are the torrent sites that got a criminal case against them Andrew? Do you know? Norton: EliteTorrents had a criminal case, they had a full FBI raid and everything. They were based in the US. Jamie King:     So my question is: is this guy being extradited because Poland isn’t strong enough or big enough to stand up to the United States, or maybe the Ukraine since he is a Ukrainian citizen, is it the case that they wouldn’t do that to Sweden, but that they would do it to Poland and the Ukraine? Gary Fung:      I would say that probably is the reason. I think that a civil case would not entitle them to extradite, but a criminal case would. Norton: I think that the cases with the Ukraine or with Poland, they were moving around; Artem was moving around a lot it seems like. Jamie King:     Do you think that they maybe also think that they don’t stand much chance of getting any money out of somebody in the Ukraine or Poland, unless they bring him to the United States for a criminal case, they’re not actually going to get any money. Gary Fung:      So I think for reason of an extradition, the only way that they could them is through a criminal case. Otherwise, I won’t think they can extradite someone for a civil concern. Jamie King:     How much money are the prosecutors saying KickAss Torrents was making? Norton: They estimated the money made is somewhere in the region of $60,000,000 a year. They have done that by taking the amount that was paid for an advert, and then later for a different advert, and then basically saying, “Okay, if that’s the price were paying for that advert, then were just going to multiply them all up, that amount of money for that amount of time, lets extrapolate that to a year, that’s how much it made.” Often it doesn’t work out that way; you would be bulk-buying, which makes it cheaper; there’s time you don’t sell your adverts, there’s time you sell them for pennies just to at least get something on there. Jamie King:     Right. But was there also though, wasn’t there, a bank account? Norton: Two of them, yes. The first one they said is in Estonia; and then the second one in Poland I think. Jamie King:     Wasn’t there an amount of money that was paid into that bank account in one year, something like $20 million dollars?  ‘Cause I mean $60m sounds like a lot of money to me. Peter, does that fit with what you would imagine? Pet. Sunde:     I was really surprised about that. But then again, it is of importance for them to show a high number;  I’m not saying that he didn’t make that money from KickAss Torrents, but they are saying that he quoted them $800 in euros for an advertisement, and then they are saying that the cash on the account is $27,000,000 during this period. But they are not saying where the money came from; they’re just saying it is somehow associated with this company, which could also do something else. Norton: It could’ve been that the bank account belonged to an ad broker. You know it wasn’t just for that site, but `for sixty or seventy other sites, maybe porn sites or maybe you know any other kind of sites, click-bait news sites. The fact is that the affidavits request a seizure order on just bank accounts that they don’t know who owns them exactly, what the details are, or why people have deposited money in them. I mean accuse me of I don’t know, copyright infringement for profit and then you look at my bank account; every penny in there is not going to come from that. It is going to be articles that I have written I’m going to be paid for that, my day-job I’ll be going to be paid for this, paid for that, paid for that. It’s not all just one thing. If this were really making $60m -$80m a year, you got to wonder then why other people haven’t thought of running their own torrent sites, because it’s making such easy money. That’s the point, it takes a lot of- even the investigator said that the site was one of the Top-100 on the internet so that means that’s a lot of traffic, and a lot of site bandwidth, and a lot of site infrastructure is going to be needed just to keep it running and that’s not cheap. Jamie King:     One thing we do know is that SolarMovie, that streaming site, went down at the same time as KickAss Torrents. So it looks like he may have been involved with SolarMovie, which would probably be a pretty significant source of advertising revenue as well I would’ve thought. Pet. Sunde:     I don’t want to speculate too much about that, it’s not unlikely that he is connected because I first found SolarMovie when finding a link on KickAss Torrents and had this ‘Stream This Movie’ link instead of just download the movie. So this connects to him at least. I actually think that the money, it’s just like in The Pirate Bay case, they could prove that over a two-and-a-half year period there was a turnover of 800,000kr and they agreed that they miscalculated so it’s 640,000kr over two-and-a-half years of Pirate Bay time, that’s less than one person’s salary during that time like it was mostly cost-associated with Pirate Bay. But they still said that we made $65,000,000 or something like that. But the numbers are very often taken from guestimates which they want to be high rather than low. You should be really careful about the numbers, until they have become a fact of the case. Jamie King:     Yeah I guess that in this case it was just interesting that they specifically quoted an amount of money that had gone through a bank account. Pet. Sunde:     Not saying where it came from or where it was going, and all of these things. Jamie King:     Yeah. Pet. Sunde:     It’s still a lot of money, I’m not saying it’s not a lot of money, but I don’t have- it could be maybe selling uranium on darknet, you know? Jamie King:     Ukrainian uranium. Pet. Sunde:     Sure. Jamie King:     Dirty bombs. Pet. Sunde:     That’s a big business I guess. Jamie King:     I guess what it seems to happen is that they use these figures that they are derived from purely notional assessments of advertising revenue and so on, to justify huge damages against torrent site operators. Gary, for example you’ve just settled your case with MPAA and CRIA recently, what was the amounts that they eventually got there? Gary Fung:      $110m was in their Hollywood case, which has been settled three years ago; and the one that we just wrapped up with CRIA, that is $66m in total. Jamie King:     Hundreds of millions of dollars, in terms of repaying that, are you on a repayment plan? Is it like a student loan? I’m sorry, I don’t mean to make light of it, but it just seems like an extraordinarily large amount of money for anyone to ever pay back.  I mean I’m guessing you don’t have, you know  $150m hanging around. Gary Fung:      This is where again, I cannot comment beyond what is already public. [ SPONSOR BREAK  Jamie King:     I guess what I’m driving at is, obviously they are trying to stop torrent sites. They have these two measures, one is putting people in jail; I would guess that’s kind of effective. When people hear that Artem from KickAss Torrents is maybe going to be extradited to the United States and go to prison there, I assume that acts as a deterrent against casual activists or progressive-type developers from making torrent sites as a kind of fun project. You know, like the original Popcorn Time team, they’re not in it for money; it probably makes those guys feel like… it probably deters them. But I wonder how much of a deterrent these huge fines are ultimately, because definitely Hollywood never gets the money; they never get the money they’re asking for. It’s not like you know, turn over a torrent site it’s like, “Oh, there’s a quarter of a billion dollars for you.” So I’m just wondering how effective do you see it as being, the current cat-and-mouse game between torrent admins and the various copyright agencies? Do you see this as an effective way to maintain copyright law-and-order? Gary Fung:      This whole strategy amounts to whack-a-mole in terms of finding and jailing, or fining technology providers, which is what all of us are doing. We’re providing tools to the general public, and then the public can be free to do as they want with such tools. I don’t think it’s effective because nothing short of shutting down the entire internet will be effective. Peer-to-peer is very much a part of the internet, and the spirit of the internet that everything is distributed and files are being shared without centralized control. Jamie King:     Does this ratcheting up of crimes against copyright into a serious criminal issue at the level of terrorism -  you know extradition and big criminal cases and so forth… is this having the effect of, I’m wondering, of the big sites that remain, and of the ones that are to come, are we going to see that with the increased risks for the operators that it’s more attractive to the “gangster-criminal type” and less attractive to your “activist-enthusiast-hobbyist-technologist” type? Gary Fung:      I think that’s logical. I mean if those who cannot protect themselves know that they’re not here for running something like that, what’s left would be the kind of people who think they could protect themselves from the authories and at the same time make a buck, so I think that would be the logical next step in terms of how the legal environment has pushed BitTorrent. Norton: I don’t know it’s going to go quite like that. I mean years ago the various, let’s call them intellectual property agencies in the UK, made a claim about how the IRA and other terrorist groups are making their money from copyright infringement. They claim that IP [intellectual property] is a great money maker for them; but when you examine the figures, they were doing that by the fact that the police were assigned a value of £50 to a fake DVD & £25 for a fake CD, and the actual money was not there. I mean, why would they bother spending all this time for a fake thing that somebody could actually easily download for free; it’s a smokescreen. The US has now got a perhaps a new rising star in the criminal investigative department who’s wanting to push himself, stretch his legs, and make a name for himself. Jamie King:     Who’s that? Norton: That would be, Jared Der-Yeghiayan. It’s a very oddly spelled name; it is D-e-r – Y-e-g-h-i-a-y-a-n. Jamie King:     I think he’s just got a chip on his shoulder because no one can pronounce his name. Norton: It’s certainly- , it’s an unusual name anyway, yes. Jamie King:     I heard that this guy was the guy who was involved in prosecuting the Dread Pirate Roberts in the Silk Road case. Norton: He was indeed one of the investigators used in the Silk Road prosecution, and that of Dread Pirate Roberts, yes. Jamie King:     Right, so is this the case of a United States attorney backing an investigator, going after cases in which peer-to-peer is enabling a kind of distributed civil disobedience? In one case it was Bitcoin, Tor, peer-to-peer software backing the creation of a large market for drugs, guns, stolen credit cards, etc. And then on the other hand, peer-to-peer in the form of BitTorrent making it possible to share infringing files on a massive scale; is this a case of the State against the power peer-to-peer is giving people to organize themselves in ways that defy state authority, they’re both threats to the establishment brought by decentralization? Gary Fung:      I think that is a logical similarity, like very different technologies but I think that there’s a substantial similarity in the sense that we have massive organizations that are  completely distributed. There is no head, so to speak, to actually hunt down, other than what they can make an example of which is the actual people that’s running certain operations. But the underlying technology and the people involved, like it is millions of people around the world. There is no way that they will hunt down millions of people. Jamie King:     This was the message of Steal This Film 1. In 2006, we said that and every year it’s just the same thing, it just repeats again and again. They take the same approach, high-profile takedown, you know we’ve taken down the biggest site in the world, we’re going to put the founder away, and we’re going to have this big fine. Everybody knows that the stage just moves to a new website, some other new website takes over; but now you have things like ZeroNet popping up. Gary Fung:      I assume it’s some kind of dark web technology? Jamie King:     It’s just a completely distributed file system, so you can run websites off it. BitTorrent came up with something similar they were running for a while; I forgot what the name of it was, you can even host the index in the swarm. Gary Fung:      So basically it’s a distributed web server? Jamie King:     A distributed web server, so you can run applications from it, right. Gary Fung:      I should actually look into that, that’s actually interesting from a technological standpoint. Jamie King:     You heard it here first. I think that there’s a site on Zeronet called Play, you can take a look at, which is a torrent site, and probably new services popping up (I’m keeping an eye on it). There’s two or three of those kinds of projects… Pet. Sunde:   Now it’s more obvious to everyone I guess, that there is a need for more distributed, and lots of smaller sites. It would mean less problems for the people involved and also less problems for having a stable source of distribution for the future as well. So that’s the thing I always wanted, a big hybrid; lots and lots of smaller sites instead of having one big target like KickAss Torrents or Pirate Bay. But the problem is that big behemoths like Pirate Bay, KickAss Torrents, and all of those are not really good at using the new technology and if you don’t have the user base, you won’t have the technology there either. IPFS is really, really good; and if everyone started using that instead, it would be great, it would be working perfectly. The problem is again, if you don’t have the user base and you don’t get the people that control the user base to start switching, there will be no innovation that actually reaches the audience. So that’s the responsibility on The Pirate Bay, KickAss Torrents, all of them, to make sure that you use new technology; but then you look at the big sites. Name one of them that has a really up-to-date user experience, user interface, or uses new technology at all. It’s the same shit that’s been around for ten years, fifteen years even. There’s no innovation whatsoever behind these sites, and a lot of them are I guess tired of running the sites and just want to keep them up, or have other things to do in their day-job, or don’t have the interest in actually making the user base more distributed. KickAss Torrents I’m guessing made a lot of money on the users and they don’t want people to go to other sites for financial reasons, which is the wrong reason to run a torrent site. So you need new voices, new people, new activists, and new ideologies into kind of the whole piracy thing. Jamie King:   Do you think we have reached the end, the end of the era of the blockbuster torrent sites, you know KickAss Torrents has gone down, Popcorn Time as soon as it got itself together it was attacked really heavily, Pirate Bay is still there in some way but it is some sort of pale imitation of its previous self. Is this, do you think, the end of the era of the big torrent sites, and the beginning of some type of new more distributed, more community based situation? Norton: Not always the easiest thing to run a big site, and especially right at this moment because everybody is suddenly looking for the next big thing, you’re going to get a huge burst of traffic so it’s going to be hard to build a site that has the resources to deal with the potential influx at this point. So those are going to get bigger, probably the ones who already got an  established base but which have the resources to weather the storm of new interests. Big sites go down; other sites come up. Even 11 years ago when SuprNova went     down it took a while for a good site to come take its place and that was  Mininova. The Pirate Bay was still in the background then; it slowly ramped up. Then when Mininova went down, then The Pirate Bay took over. So we may see that one that’s been considered, somewhat of a second fiddle, it may rise, I mean KAT itself didn’t rise forward until The Pirate Bay’s raid in 2014. So I don’t really know. There’s all a lot of sites that are somewhat hidden, often what are commonly called ‘private sites’ but which are more accurately called ‘activity-logging sites’ or ‘registration-required sites’. Many feel they’re more safe and more secure, even though in reality with the amount of data they collect and the data that’s shared and stored on them and the fact that you have to register for them, they’re actually far less secure and far less safe than the public sites which are basically open books that anybody can access at any time. Pet. Sunde:     I’ve been saying this for years that I want Pirate Bay to be shut down and I’m hoping now with KickAss Torrents being shut down, that this will inspire people to actually do something fresh, and innovative, and something new, and that there is a void to be filled by some new innovation. And to be honest, it’s not really hard to run a torrent site; it’s not really hard to set one up. There’s no big reason anymore for advertising on any of these sites. Back in the day it was really expensive with bandwidth and having to run a tracker, but today you don’t need to run a tracker which uses a lot of bandwidth; you just need a small website somewhere. So it’s not hard at all, it’s not expensive at all, you can do this on a community basis. There’s just one non-advertising torrent site that has an open database that everyone can just share and copy, and distribute, and back and forth. Do stuff that’s a little more modern than the old shit. Jamie King:     So someone needs to build something like that, where it’s basically got an API and somebody who’s running a torrent site can make sure that all the torrents that get uploaded to their site specifically also get, I don’t know, get mirrored in this public database. Is that something that needs to be done? Pet. Sunde:     Yeah it’s just like a normal blog page, its super simple. It’s like, this shit is so old, it’s around already, it’s so weird that no one is doing this already. This surprises me, but I think that the big problem is that people just depend on KickAss Torrents and The Pirate Bay to be there for them, and as long as they’re around no one wants to bother doing the same thing, because someone else will take that risk, in this case the guys from KickAss Torrents or the guys from Pirate Bay. So I think it’s lazy on both ends, and the people that lose out are the community as a whole, because if you don’t have both of these sites trying to innovate, we’re going to lose on our end and in the long run. You know Netflix is better than most torrent sites, most streaming sites of course. People are using Spotify for music, why didn’t we innovate more on the piracy side for this? We’re not really there for people in the countries that can’t benefit from Spotify. Like people that have Spotify stopped sharing music on Pirate Bay, which means that the poorer countries in the world don’t have access to the same music anymore. So we are going backwards in time for the people that are not part of the community. That’s really sucky and I really really hate that, because we’re giving up too easily when we have it served for us, having served some sort of crappy dinner every single day like, “We have a McDonalds so we don’t need to get better food.” That’s the same thing with Pirate Bay and KickAss Torrents. Like I used KickAss Torrents because it was better than Pirate Bay, and KickAss Torrents was really fucking sucky in terms of technology. You could do so much better than that, that’s how bad it is. Jamie King:     Andy maybe in conclusion, you could just talk about how strong you think the case is that these guys have, and what chances you think Artem has if he is ultimately extradited to face the criminal courts in Chicago. Norton: As to the case as a whole, if they’ve got nothing much more than what they got in the indictment, and we don’t know because it’s sealed and we can’t actually see the case number to read the dockets and everything else that they’ve filed, from what they presented there they don’t have the strongest of cases. They may be able to get the extradition depending on what the extradition treaty with Poland is, and how it may or may not interact with Ukrainian law. I’m not a legal expert, and certainly not an extradition specialist, so I can’t really answer how well it’s going to succeed on an extradition basis. But for the case as they’ve presented it, it’s going to be difficult to make a coherent case that isn’t stymied by pre-existing case rulings and precedents. Such as the Sony Betamax case, which shows that a technology which has significant non-infringing uses can be legal and KAT, which does not directly use and seek out infringing content and promote it other things by design, is not going to fall foul of that in many opinions, that depends on the judge. If the judge is one that’s very sympathetic to copyright interests, it may go easier for the prosecution. But it’s going to be very hard especially it’s a criminal case, and so many civil cases only have what’s called a preponderance of evidence flaw, where they just got to convince 51% of the way. Here they got a basically get at least 95-98% it’s going to be beyond a reasonable doubt, and that’s going to be a lot, lot harder to do when just reading through this affidavit there are so many question marks and ambiguous statements that can be attacked and undermined. So I’m uncertain, I feel that as with many other cases they’re going to lean towards a plea deal instead. Jamie King:     And is there a political dimension to all this? Obama’s term is coming to an end. Does that play into this case in any way? Norton: Obama has been a very good president for much of the entertainment industry. Joe Biden of course has long said the things that the MPAA want to say. There have been many former RIAA and MPAA lawyers, some of the top spots of the Justice Department were filled by Obama on his taking office with people from the entertainment industry, and you can expect that there was some close connection with former Senator Chris Dodd who is head of the MPAA now. They may be pushing to get this at least started before the end of the term, just so that it’ll be there in the system. Just in case the Democrats do lose the White House, because the Republican Party obviously is not a big fan of what they call “Hollywood Liberals”. So they may take a lot of priority in that, although it is a business and they do love business. So, there’s possibly a political element and a sort of rush to set the tone, to set the stage, and an impact on it. And it could also help with trying to push through things like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Trade and Services Agreement, and the other similar trade deals which also have a strong copyright motive, and they could say, “Look here’s this case, the big case, it’s worldwide, it’s a massive site. We’re trying to deal with it, but you know it’s hard, we got a complicated case, and it’s difficult to prove. If only we had this kind of treaty, we could solve this and all of these problems, and all of this money that is being stolen…” (Which it’s not) “…for all of this money which is being stolen can then brought back into your own economies, and taken away from these dubious, evil, bad men who are stealing it, millions, millions, and millions of dollars a year.” Pet. Sunde:     For me, it’s weird that Poland is arresting someone on order of the United States, where the person has not been, that is to me is very, very strange. It’s similar in the Megaupload case with Kit Dotcom, and I didn’t think that would actually happen in Europe, and not in a European Union country; that is very strange to me. Even if he’s a national of some country which is not part of the EU, it still surprises me quite a lot, and I’m hoping the European Commission might actually look into that. I have an issue always with one country having that much power; I don’t care if it’s the United States, Russia, or whatever it is. But one country should not be able to just go grab people from anywhere in the world, just because they do something on the internet. That’s just insanity. Jamie King:         And Gary, you’re mentioning this business about treating torrent site admins as if they were international crime kingpin terrorists. Any last words on that? Gary Fung:          Honestly, we all know what’s going on in the Middle East with ISIS. Those actual crazy terrorists setting cities on fire, and burning down thousand-year old monuments, actual crimes against humanity; it just baffles me: Homeland Security and those guys with all their resources, they’re not spending it on those kind of criminals, but on so-called criminals - what are they doing? Filesharing? How does that compare to actually killing people by the thousands?      
These subtitles are for S02E06 of STEAL THIS SHOW. Many thanks to the volunteer who produced these!
Jamie King: And now our interview with one of the people behind TV ADDONS, one of the larger underground repositories for the Kodi media system. With tens of millions of users, TV ADDONS is a major force for unauthorised access to media and in many ways it represents the future wave of piracy that’s moving away from the Bittorrent ecosystem. So without further ado, here is TV ADDONS' Eleazar who requested his voice be altered to protect his identity. Jamie King: For a start thanks very much for being on the show I really appreciate it. Eleazar: Thank you. Jamie King: Maybe we should first just get you to introduce yourself and just explain who you are, what you are doing and why your voice is masked. Eleazar: Well my name is Eleazar. I am one of the staff at TV ADDONS. It’s a team effort. I’m more on the webmaster type of side. I write guides and things like that. Why I am masking my voice is because in general I like to consider myself a privacy advocate and I am very concerned about online privacy. Jamie King: The reason that you are worried about your privacy in this case is that something about the nature of TV ADDONS -- do you consider it legal or illegal and if it’s illegal, why is it illegal? Eleazar: The truth is the law is open to interpretation. It’s a hobby. It’s something that we do for fun, so it’s not something that I would want to get into a legal battle with proving is this legal or not. As far as I am concerned, personally, we have nothing to do with the distribution of content. Whether we exist or not, the content that we are accessing would be readily available online. At the same time the people that are pirating this content don’t necessarily like us because when people watch that content through Kodi they are not actually getting any type of ad revenue so we are not really a friend to the pirate community in my opinion. Jamie King: Ha! I see, because when people watch a stream and video files through Kodi it strips effectively the advertising container. Eleazar: Well firstly when we watch streaming content there’s ads all over it so that’s how they make money and then furthermore those sites use hosts which are called cyberlockers like what Megaupload was -- and those cyberlockers have their own advertisements and/or premium membership offers. Going through us circumvents all advertising and just grabs the content so that you can watch it without it being beneficial in any way to the host. Jamie King: Very interesting. Is it just that you think the pirate community doesn’t like you or that you know that they don’t like you? Have people been in touch with you about that? Eleazar: Well I’m definitely certain that they don’t like us because what happens is that Kodi addons are meant to access or to interface with any type of online streaming website. Addons have been independently developed, so depending on what the developer wants to access, it could be YouTube or it could be Hulu or it could be a site like Primewire or a site like NHL.com right or any of these; they change their coding to break the addon and that’s specifically being done because Kodi addons are causing a spike in server load. That server will cost them money in bandwidth which they have to cover costs for. There was actually one cyberlocker which specifically stated it was because of Kodi. A fairly large one that closed about a year ago. They put a message on their site which said that due to the traffic being brought on by Kodi addons, they were unable to maintain profitability and farewell. Jamie King: And that’s you effectively. I mean you’re the central repository for addons for Kodi. Eleazar: Well we’re not a repository. We have a repository, which is our community repository. Most of the addons are in the individual developers' repositories, which they retain full control over. Jamie King: Ah yeah sorry. What I meant was is that you are effectively a kind of clearinghouse or hub. A place people discover these add ons. Eleazar: We are a community website and a community website where people can submit any type of development or open source software or anything like that. Collaborative coding. We don’t specifically target any type of grey market or black market. We are just open. There are Kodi addons that will allow you to watch sites like Earthcam.com where you can see video cameras from around the world like the Eiffel Tower or Time Square. That’s a very popular addon we have and that’s a completely legitimate addon we have. Does Earthcam necessarily like it? Probably not because it’s again causing their bandwidth to be increased, but it’s not circumventing anything on their site. It’s just displaying it in a video on demand interface. Jamie King: Yeah I get it. Just to back up a bit, maybe you could talk us through for listeners who don’t know what the structure is of Kodi: what does it do and what do TV ADDONS plugins do that are made available via TV ADDONS, if that’s the way to put it? How do those two things work together? Eleazar:  The first thing that I would like to make clear just out of respect: Kodi is run by a non-profit foundation called the XBMC Foundation. It’s one of the biggest open-source software projects in existence in terms of code contributions. It’s been around for many many years -- I believe eight years right now, I’m not certain. The XBMC Foundation, who are the official Kodi team that develops the media player, does not like us. They don’t like these addons. They are developing a media player software that’s meant to be used to view all media or media you own the rights to. The addons are just a feature of it. It’s not even just a main feature. It’s another feature that exists and it’s a feature that’s by the third party community and has become very popular. Jamie King: As I remember -- I’m digging into my very distant memory here  --  it started as a way to use your Xbox as a media centre. Do I remember wrong that you had to root your Xbox in the first place in order to install that? Because I think I remember there was at the very least a violation of the Microsoft terms of use. It probably just voided the warranty or something like that? Eleazar: Exactly. Jamie King: I think it was one of those situations where people would mod their Xboxes in order to run pirate games? Eleazar: Something like that. It would have allowed you to play pirated games. It would have allowed you to do all sorts of stuff like that. The people that made the mod chips had nothing to do with the distribution of pirate games. Microsoft definitely didn’t like modchips. Apple doesn’t like when people jailbreak their phones and install third party apps either, but jailbreaking has nothing to do with piracy. It just has to do with allowing you to install what you want on your device. Jamie King: The first time I saw I saw someone using XBMC was actually Peter Sunde, the Pirate Bay guy, and I think -- and I don’t want to be mean to the Kodi guys, but I suspect that vast majority of people who have a large collection of digital media like on their hard drives have not converted most of that stuff from Blu Ray disks or DVDs. Eleazar: Well if you say that you have to consider that if they download through torrents or if they have stuff on their hard drive they are not using Kodi to download that. Kodi is just playing it. It’s not as involved in accessing content, as addons are using Kodi to access the content, which they don’t like so much because it brings them closer to a grey area. They definitely try to make it as hard as possible to use addons. They don’t want bigger <unclear> they want their media player, which is a great media player. It does a lot of things, and can be used for a lot of things. And again it’s open source, so Kodi is used to maintain hotels’ Video On Demand systems. You can make it do different things through add ons, not just things that are for this purpose. You know -- you can program it so you can watch your home security cameras through Kodi, and things like that. Jamie King: So Kodi provides the infrastructure and then many of the addons that you find via TV ADDONS utilise that infrastructure that Kodi provides, and links the user to feeds that are online - the are file hosts, Megaupload, OpenLoad. What are the big ones now? Eleazar: A big one before was Putlocker. That doesn’t exist anymore. There’s a lot; I don’t really recall offhand. Kodi is scraping. You’re not importing a list of links into Kodi and playing. The addons are coded to be able to interface and scrape, the way a human would. The code is built so it can look into the menu structure of a site and then visualise each page of a site and scrape the page’s content. Kodi is providing the basis for the functionality that allows an addon to interface with in order to work. Jamie King: So what are the main plugins people are using now to do this? Eleazar: There are many popular ones. They come; they go. It’s ever evolving. I can’t really say that one is more popular because the truth is we don’t maintain statistics about things like this. We are very concerned about user privacy. We actually have a policy against addons tracking users or keeping anything like that data. So I can’t say which for certain are most popular. Jamie King: But I get the feeling that, I'm no expert, but Exodus is one that is popular at the moment. Is that right? Eleazar: Yes that one is popular. There are different ones though. People typically use a diverse number of add ons. I’m always discovering new content, because it’s always changing. It’s just accessing what is available online. Many add ons just scrape one site, whereas other addons are multiscraper addons, which scrape multiple sites at the same time. Jamie King: Yeah like Stream All The Sources (SALTS) is another one I saw right? Eleazar: Yeah exactly that one will scrape multiple sites. Jamie King: You know I’m not a massive user of Kodi, but one thing I have observed is that maybe it’s better currently with the current plugins that are available are better for accessing more recent material. TV shows which have been released recently are more popular and the same goes for movies. Is that right or am I just missing… Eleazar: I wouldn’t say so. I would say that what happens is the addons they have to access their listings from somewhere. For example a streaming addon for movies or television would access listings through IMDB. So on one hand it scrapes IMDB for the listings of movies or whatever and then once the user chooses what they want to watch it scrapes other websites which are linked to other types of content and after that it <unclear> them. It accesses the video player on the cyberlocker like Movpod or Megaupload for example. Jamie King: So in a way, it’s quite similar to how Popcorn time worked, except that Popcorn Time used torrents. They are both using sources that are already out there and bringing them together to create a service… Eleazar: No, no, no, because Popcorn Time is a piracy app. The only access is pirated content...for the most part pirated content. Torrents aren’t piracy in my opinion, but if you are accessing tracker like The Pirate Bay then it is piracy related. Popcorn Time only accesses certain torrents. It’s not just any torrent in the world. It was specifically these movie torrents. And what Popcorn Time also does is Popcorn Time facilitates the distribution of piracy because when a user accesses content through Popcorn Time they are actually reseeding or resharing, because they are effectively turning into a server that distributes what they are watching to other torrent users, the same way a torrent client would. We are leeching off these sources when you are using Kodi addons. Popcorn Time is making the user actively involved in the distribution. Popcorn Time is active participation in piracy. The people who develop Popcorn Time are helping piracy exist. We are not helping piracy exist. Nothing are are doing contributes to the piracy with distribution, whereas Popcorn Time is actually distributing. So Popcorn Time benefits Yify Torrents, whereas we… Jamie King: Yeah so maybe it contributed to the urgency of getting Yify Torrents taken down. Eleazar: Yeah so what happens is Yify Torrents is a torrent tracker so the more people watching it through Popcorn Time the more servers they have, the more they are distributing this content. So Popcorn Time helps the distribution of piracy whereas we have nothing to do with that. Jamie King: Yeah I get it. So why do you think attention has moved from torrents to Kodi and to TV ADDONS, to some of the more popular plugins on Kodi. What’s changed? Eleazar: Well I wouldn’t say the attention has moved. In no world will Kodi ever be as popular as Popcorn Time or torrents, because those are just much larger applications and are far easier for users. You download Popcorn Time and you can watch right away, whereas with Kodi they have to configure this that and the other. It’s not as intuitive or as simple as an app. Jamie King: Can you give me any idea of how many people are using Kodi with a plugin like Exodus at the moment? Eleazar: Well we couldn’t tell you at all in terms of specific addons. We don’t track that. We don’t allow developers. The reason we don’t allow developers to track that is firstly we are very concerned with user privacy, developer privacy. Everyone’s privacy is our utmost concern. Our greatest concern is privacy. And at the same time we don’t want to create a competitive type of environment. People who do this do this because it’s a learning experience. They enjoy learning how to code in Python. Developing your coding skills. It’s not really about piracy. It’s more about accessing content. It’s about honing your skills. Doing something cool. You know, learning different things. We don’t want it to be a competitive place where one addon wants to be biggest. The add ons really don’t want to be the biggest. Some developers make their addons specifically to be difficult to use to avoid it being the biggest. The one that becomes the biggest then the site ceases access and breaks the functionality. Jamie King: I thought I noticed that when I was looking, I can't remember where I saw the statistic on TVADDONS.com, but I thought I saw at one point a plugin that had maybe it was just overall 20 plus million downloads of a plugin. Does that fit in with… Eleazar: That is just an estimate of how many devices have connected to our repository server. What happens is that when Kodi turns on it pings the server to check for updates, the git source, wherever the developer hosts their addons. So when it pings that server it tracks how many unique visitors have pinged the server as if it was website hits, but all you get is that number of users. We don’t get any specific information on those users, not even location or anything like that. We just get how many unique devices connected to this server per day and yeah the estimate is like around 20 million, but the number could be slightly off. Jamie King: I see but that’s a significant number of devices that are pinging the Github. Eleazar: Well again it’s not necessarily devices accessing sketchy or grey content. It could be just you know watching totally legitimate content or not even watching content at all. They just have add ons and those are checking for updates when the device is on. Jamie King: So it’s a maximum potential in the number of people actively using Kodi for piracy is definitely something lower. I think I saw 22 million or something lower. Eleazar: Well again, we consider ourselves an open-source community where people can collaborate and contribute what they want. Many of our most popular add ons have nothing to do with piracy and don’t access to pirated sources at all. Jamie King: Interesting, so what’s an example of some of the most popular add ons that are totally legit. Eleazar: There’s an addon that accesses BBC iplayer or ITV. That’s legitimate content source. Jamie King: You’re only supposed to access that if you’re in Britain right, I mean… Eleazar: We’re not providing any iplayer VPN functionality or anything like that. Then there’s an addon that accesses different college’s YouTube channels and it displays a listing of all college football teams and you can watch game replays. That’s accessing YouTube, which is also another licenced source. There’s a popular addon for USTVnow, which is a licenced provider of free television to Americans living overseas, so if you’re an expat living overseas, you can get basic television channels for free from US TV Now. That’s fully licenced and that’s one of our most popular add ons. Jamie King: Are any artists yet, independent creators using an addon or add ons or piggybacking on other people’s addons to distribute independent content? Eleazar: Do you mean licenced content? Jamie King: Yeah, yeah, so any filmmakers or any podcasters? Eleazar: There’s a ton of little ones. We don’t want people to come along and say “how can I make my podcast popular through the use of Kodi addons”. We don’t want our site to be used for commercial purposes like that. So yeah, they can distribute, but if someone comes along with a vested interest with a YouTube channel that no one has ever heard of and starts trying to promote their addon on our site like it’s the biggest thing on Earth, then we won’t allow that to happen. We will allow them to fairly distribute a fair amount in the same way that everyone else does, but we’re not looking to be a source of <unclear> for people. Jamie King: I see, so you’re not looking to do what the Pirate Bay did and feature certain independent artists so they could use it as a way of getting exposure. Eleazar: No. It’s better that they release their add on to the community. If users decide they want to use it, they use it and the more users use it the more people <unclear> about it, but we’re not showcasing someone’s content source to try to bring them commercial success. Jamie King: They might not be a commercial success though. A lot of people who are distributing stuff through Pirate Bay, I don’t think they were making a lot of money. I think it was about reaching the audience. You know what strikes me as interesting about that is that when the Pirate Bay first distributed my film, you know it was really really valuable not really in terms of money but in terms of access an audience and changing people’s minds about what piracy meant. Eleazar: OK well there’s the thing. Say you are a filmmaker, you have a website. You would have to be hosting your streaming content on your website for Kodi to be able to access it, OK, so the addon will only be accessing your website’s content. It’s not as owners would be showcasing a specific movie on their listing when we would have no ability to do that. Jamie King: So it would be more like Exodus or one of the big plugins doing it really. That would really be the way to go. Eleazar: Well no, because they don’t really have anything to do with the content either. They’re just streaming websites. Jamie King: I mean they could if they wanted to. It’s the same thing with Popcorn Time. Popcorn Time has got a little stressed now with different sources going down and stuff, but they had a plan to distribute independent content because I think they felt they had this huge audience which was looking at mostly Hollywood films, mostly… Eleazar: We don’t really want to be involved in content. We’re developing code. The only thing we distribute is code. You know we don’t look at the content, we just see if it’s available online and if someone wants to make an interface with it then go ahead. Exodus is just code, there’s no movie listing in it at all. Jamie King: Right but that’s a decision isn’t it? That's a decision. That’s like Facebook saying "it's the algorithm" or just Google saying "it’s the algorithm." That’s a human decision to do that. When you get in a situation where you’ve got say somewhere less than twenty million people using devices to access feeds of content, at that point you know there would be a lot of artists, a lot of people who don’t have the access to the big studios. This is my personal goal to <unclear>. How does the little creator get their voice out into the world and that can be really important. It can important politically. It can help people like you because they can change people’s opinions about intellectual property and so on and so forth. It can do a lot of things and I guess you don’t have an appetite for becoming an active participant in changing the kind of things people are looking at. Eleazar: Well I think the thing that people like about TV ADDONS is that we try to stay very neutral. Developers aren’t trying to push specific agendas. When people are trying to push their own political agenda in their addon it’s frowned upon. We really don’t want to be involved in the distribution or making content popular. That’s up to whatever the content creator or whoever is hosting the content. That’s what they do. Jamie King: That’s really interesting though isn’t it. Let me just draw you out on that. Again you know I’m not trying to say you should think the same way as me. There’s no reason for that, but decisions have been made that predetermine what sort of content is going to come out through the plugins. It’s not just the best content survives and the weak content dies. It’s not. It’s the content that’s been marketed and paid for by big studios. Like if Exodus was to say: “OK on the Exodus boot screen or your homepage, we’re now going to list four independent movies per month from filmmakers who would like to share their work”. Free content from filmmakers who want to share. Eleazar: We don’t have a problem with that, but that’s also passive. It’s not the content creator coming on and trying to bombard users with their content. Jamie King: That’s basically what I’m proposing. Why not use one of these fantastically popular plugins as a way to expose people to stuff that hasn’t gone through the system. Eleazar: That would be up to the individual developer. If they wanted to do that, they could, but I don’t think they are interested either. They just want to develop stuff that can access this stuff that has nothing to do with them. Dealing with content is a headache you know. People are asking to put their movie on and all types of different stuff like that. We’re not your movie site. We’re not a TV site. We are a site that distributes open source coding that people can use through Kodi or if they want to use them as a learning tool to learn how to write code. We don’t think about what the code accesses after. Jamie King: So have you had any legal challenges or have there been any approaches so far from Hollywood, the entertainment lobbies? Has anyone approached you to tell you they want you to stop doing something or….? Eleazar: No no. Well there is one addon allows users to contribute their own links to content. We received a DMCA notice once and we removed the content that was requested to be removed. Jamie King: Well that’s pretty good so far. Eleazar: We respect the law. We respect the DMCA. We’re not actively enabling any type of distribution of pirated content. Jamie King: In terms of TV ADDONS and Kodi, how do you see things developing? There have been big changes in the torrent world. Some of the big sites have gone down. There’s just a few left. Extratorrent has recently had a few domains seized. I’m just interested in given that the entertainment lobbies really are making efforts to clean out what they see as sources of loss of earnings. Do you see any of these changes affecting the basic infrastructure that TV ADDONS plugins, some of them, are using? And what other changes do you see on the horizon, good or bad? Eleazar: Well the way you say that question, I don’t really see Kodi addons coming into play, but I see it in a different way. I think that streaming content, accessing content, through cyberlockers is more attractive to users because, comparative to torrents, if you access content from a cyberlocker you are not engaging in any illegal activity, because there is nothing against downloading content that’s available online, but when you engage in downloading torrents you are actively participating in the distribution, because when you are downloading a torrent you are also sharing that same torrent with other users who are downloading because of the peer to peer nature of it, so I think that peer to peer isn’t so attractive because if you’re downloading a torrent you are breaking the law, if you’re sharing that torrent’s content and most users don’t configure their client to not support uploads. They have no clue they are distributing content and that’s why people get <unclear> from torrents. There are fines and legal letters, because they are distributing content. They are not only watching, they are hosting it as well. Jamie King: Yeah, but what I was getting at was that many of the file lockers, many of them have come and gone. Big ones have been taken offline, obviously Megaupload was one of the biggest file lockers. Kimdotcom is under a large legal case at the moment. I’m sure you’ve heard about it. Do you see the future of TV ADDONS being affected at all by those struggles or how do you see the general infrastructural situation. Eleazar: Our add ons access anything that’s online, so so long as something is online we will be able to access it. When I look at cyberlockers I think think if you are operating a cyberlocker you should be doing so within the domain of the law. You should be respecting the laws, the DMCA, you should not be trying to promote yourself as a piracy host. Megaupload likely <unclear> conversations. They discussed uploading their own content to the servers just to make their site more popular, so like that you know incentivising piracy. If the cyberlockers do things like that, they are not going to last, but if they do things by the law. YouTube is a cyberlocker. YouTube exists. Jamie King: Yes well YouTube started off by doing that as well. I remember there being some chatlogs of YouTube executives talking about uploading copyrighted content in order to drive traffic to the site. They stopped doing it later on, but they definitely did it. Eleazar: What users submit isn’t necessarily your responsibility, as long as you follow the DMCA. Take it down if there is a complaint. Cyberlockers shouldn’t have a problem, but that honestly has nothing to do with us, because the cyberlockers, again as I said, don’t like Kodi add ons. Jamie King: I guess what I’m driving at is that I think there is a significant attrition going on with torrent indexes and while I’m sure a lot of activity has moved to private trackers, what I’m driving at is, do you see a similar type of attrition going on with cyberlockers file transfer hosts or do you think there is something about them that is more nimble? I suppose one of the things you’re saying is if they have a significant non-infringing use and they follow the DMCA that for now they are kind of protected. Eleazar: Well personally I like torrents. It’s a hassle and you’re breaking the law when you use them. People don’t want to break the law when they are sharing content and get letters and that  sort of thing, so obviously there is going to be a trend towards people not using that, you know people don’t want to contribute. And in terms of cyberlockers and stuff like that most of them offer premium memberships I believe, but I don’t know much about that. There are no really underground cyberlockers. Jamie King: In terms of the boxes that we are seeing and you mentioned this before we started that Kodi is very popular in the UK. I think one of the reasons for that is that people were able to buy these “fully loaded” Kodi boxes over eBay. I don’t know if they still are, but I think those are available in Britain and people became pretty aware of them. Someone even told my Mum about one. Eleazar: Let me make something clear on that. Both TV ADDONS and, as far as I know, the official Kodi team are strongly against the selling of preloaded boxes. Firstly these sellers are offering things that aren’t true. Kodi add ons aren’t necessarily so stable. It’s not like Netflix. It goes up; it goes down; there’s problems. You need to maintain it. You might have to reinstall it. So, firstly, by selling these add ons like that they are lying to their customers. They are making it sound like it’s super easy, when it’s not necessarily. Secondly they are making it so the customers knows nothing about our website or how to maintain Kodi or do anything like that. So if someone comes to our website and installs and configures Kodi. In that configuration process they learn a little about how it works and if they get home with a box that comes with add ons preinstalled, they do not learn how it works and they assume that we’re getting paid for these boxes that they are buying, which is not the case. We don’t want people to be making commercial money of this, we don’t want people selling preloaded boxes. We want users who enjoy contributing to the community and taking part in the conversation. Jamie King: Yeah I get it. So it seems like it’s an interesting situation as the Kodi developers don’t like the plugin developers and a lot of the file lockers don’t like the TV ADDONS, the plugin developers and the plugin developers and the Kodi people don’t like the people building the preloaded boxes. So there is quite a lot of people not liking each other in this ecosystem. Eleazar: That’s definitely true. We respect, we fully respect Team Kodi. There are some very dedicated people. Very smart people. Far smarter than me in terms of software development. They do good stuff. It’s years they have been working on this and you know they don’t want it to be looked at as a piracy tool. We don’t want people to look at it as a piracy tool either. We want people to understand that you can add a plugin, but that’s not the intended purpose of it. We don’t allow our people for example, something very popular in the UK, but which we are strongly against, is the selling of pirated streams. We don’t allow service to sell content that they do not  have the licence for. These paid IPTV services which the box sellers are selling to their customers, which we really strongly and actively denounce. We don’t want our community taken over by profiteers and these people who are doing these things are firstly very immoral. They are making money off stuff that they don’t own. It’s ridiculous that you would sell content that you did not create and yeah it turns this bad commercial vibe where everyone is trying to make money. We don’t want anything to do with that and it’s far more illegal to run that kind of service where you are distributing streams in exchange for money. So we don’t want our site to be associated with that. We don’t want <unclear> with that and we are very proactive in letting our users know that they should avoid those kind of services. Jamie King: I didn’t know anything about these people doing paid IPTV. I guess you don’t want to mention the name of those people in the show. Is that something where they set up in some country and they copy… what do they do? They have a kind of paid filehost or how does that work? Eleazar: From what I’ve seen, most of those people are in the UK. They normally have a couple of satellite dishes on their roof, and maybe they have their own internet connection or maybe two or three  internet connections coming into their home, maybe cable and DSL. And then they distribute it, host it from their internet connection. Distribute it online like that. So their users pay through a paid interface that requires a login or whatnot. You are dealing with pirated content. You don’t have the servers that Netflix and stuff like that has, so you’re charging people, you’re guaranteeing a level of service. They know that their service is bound to fail, just because they can’t have the type of infrastructures to support it. So as soon as they have enough users to make enough money, they end up either disappearing or stealing people’s money or whatnot because it’s not something they are able to maintain and I <unclear> from ignorance in the beginning if they think they can maintain it but it’s just not a winning venture. Jamie King: Just so I understand, you’re saying that there are people in the UK who get a few DSL boxes or a few satellite dishes and pay for services themselves and then, what, they have like a stream duplicator so they can duplicate the streams in realtime? Eleazar: Well they set up a streaming server in their house. They have a mirror that mirrors what they are streaming from their house to give it like some extra juice or bandwidth and then they have something mirroring it, like some other house, but they are not reliable services. If you have 100 people watching something, it takes a lot of power to power that and likely they are not able to. Jamie King: That’s so interesting. I had no idea that was going on. I don’t know whether you know about this, in lots of cities in India there’s these groups of guys they call themselves “cable wallahs”, which just means “the cable guys”. What they do is they have a house, where they will have a couple of satellite dishes up and then they’ll have a little stack of DVD players and they’ll buy pirate DVDs and throw them on one after the other and then they wire up the neighbourhood to these ad-hoc piracy centres essentially and they go around and they collect revenue off everybody and this is the TV networks and so the entire network is essentially wired using the physical infrastructure and I mean these guys will have you know a thousand, two thousand customers wired up with wires running all through the streets going down to the pirate market to buy their DVDs and put them on. Eleazar: That’s super illegal. Jamie King: In India, I mean in these developing markets, there’s less oversight, less cooperation between them and Hollywood and so on. I guess that’s why they are getting away with it and the main rivalry was between one set of cable wallahs and another set, so they would come in at night and cut each other’s uplink or cut the optical cable that was running across someone’s roof and then a thousand people… Eleazar: What you are describing to me seems like organised crime. Jamie King: Yeah yeah yeah, I guess in terms of that kind of activity that you’re talking about in the UK about people setting up streaming servers in their home it’s not too different from what people are doing in the developing world.  You know it’s not like in terms of like it being a bit déclassé, not too sophisticated. Jamie King: Just to wrap up in terms of listeners wanting to experiment with Kodi and TV ADDONS plugins where would you suggest to start? What’s your advice about the best way to get going? Eleazar: Well if you go to our website, if you go to tvaddons.ag, the first step would be to install the Kodi media center, which is just a media player. Second step would be to configure our Fusion installer which just contains all the different add ons developer repositories so then you install whichever repository you want and then you enable whichever add on you want in their repository and use it for however long you want to use it. Jamie King: And in terms of hardware that people can grab right now, what’s cool? Eleazar: Well the easiest thing would be just to install it on your computer, but if you’re looking for something cool, more of a home theatre interface, the best piece of hardware is definitely the Nvidia Shield TV, but it’s also an expensive piece of hardware. You can also install Kodi for the Amazon Fire TV, if you want to. There’s a new box, which I haven’t seen. It’s a very good price point, maybe $69 from what I know? It’s called the the Xiaomi Mi Box. Xiaomi Mi is I believe the second biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world. It’s a huge company. You don’t necessarily hear about it much in the western world, but in Asia they are huge. They make all types of computers, consumer electronics, things like that. This is their Android TV device - the Xiaomi Mi Box. Jamie King: OK, so it’s the Xiaomi Mi or the Fire TV or you can just install it straight on your computer and hack around to see how it works. Eleazar: Well there’s a ton of other platforms that Kodi works on too. You can get a Raspberry Pi, which is a mini computer for hobbyists. You can also jailbreak your iPhone or iPad or Apple TV to install Kodi to it as well or you can install it to your Android phone or your Android tablet. Jamie King: I get it, so this is a hacker ethos, not a commercialised ethos. This is about grabbing a box, installing it yourself, figuring out how it works and making it work the way you want. Eleazar: It’s about having fun. Enjoying what you’re doing and not go spending your money. Spend your money and give it to charity if you want to support us. Do something like that. We don’t want some kind of shopping center giving Kodi addons this bad name by marketing it as a free TV product, because it’s not. Jamie King: So in terms of exciting things coming down the line for TV ADDONS or plugins that you can see coming up or the way things are going, how do you see it going in terms of next year, the year after, what are we going to be seeing that’s exciting? Eleazar: We have a new website coming because there’s a new version of Kodi coming out which will actually change the skin they use so the whole Kodi interface is going to change very shortly. If you want to be more towards the neutral side and not the licenced side of things and yeah our developers come from all over the place so you never know some guy’s a user and the next thing you know they learn how to code through watching YouTube videos or they take an online course or maybe someone listening to your show will come up with the next huge addon. Jamie King: Well thanks for doing the interview. We really appreciate it. Eleazar: Thank you very much. It’s much appreciated.