Digital TV boxes banned after judge sides with cable giants

If you want to cut the cord with one of these devices, you might want to think twice. (Photo: REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage)
If you want to cut the cord with one of these devices, you might want to think twice. (Photo: REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage)

Do you own or are you thinking of buying an Apple, Roku, or official Google streaming device? If so, consider yourself safe from Canada’s biggest telecom companies.

BCE, Rogers, and Videotron launched a joint lawsuit last month against a group of distributors of set-top Android boxes, including iTVBox.net, My Electronics, Android Bros Inc., WatchNSaveNow Inc., and MtlFreeTV.com.

If you plan to buy one of those Android boxes that are advertised as a way to “cut the cord” and watch free TV, you may want to think twice. The Federal Court of Canada recently issued an interim order blocking the sale of devices that allow viewers to easily access copyrighted movies and TV shows.

You may even own one of these boxes, bought for little money and currently connected to your TV. The thing is, if you are using it for legitimate reasons, there’s no problem. Take a deep breath.

What allows these devices to access illegal content is often not the apps on them but the add-ons to the apps that make pirated content accessible at the push of a button. The add-ons also come pre-installed on the boxes, so there is little for the buyer to do but plug it in and start watching.

Federal Court Justice Danièle Tremblay-Lamer wrote: “These boxes have several uses for consumers, some of which are perfectly legal and some which skirt around the fringes of copyright law. This is not the first time a new technology has been alleged to violate copyright law, nor will it be the last.”

Security is another issue to consider before buying or using one of these devices. Since they come pre-loaded with apps and add-ons, the average user would not really know if spyware or other malicious programs were installed and recording credit card numbers and other personal information.

In this case, with potential access to unlimited movies and TV shows, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
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