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Illegal streaming services come with bigger risks than malware

Posted: 11:50 AM, Apr 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-03 18:15:30Z

As streaming services gain more and more ground on cable companies illegal streaming continues to have a strong foothold in the entertainment industry.

Illegal streaming is nothing new, but the consequences for doing it could be changing.

Jennifer Dukarski, an attorney with Butzel Long, said in the past few months alone a number of court cases have surfaced that could change what was once considered settled law.

“The court system is almost playing a game of whack a mole trying to catch up as we go,” said Dukarski.

Civil penalties are steep too. If you’re not illegally breaking copyright rules the penalties range from $750 to $30 thousand per TV show or movie. If you’re deliberately breaking copyright rules the cost could jump to $150 thousand.

“They can trace it back to your television, your WiFi and find you,” said Dukarski. “Sometimes they’ll come after you as an individual to try to stop the whole system. Other times they’ll go after the pirates themselves.”

While it’s rare to hear about companies going after individuals who are streaming illegal TV shows and movies, it’s not improbable.

When Napster and Kazaa became household names for allowing individuals to illegally download music it seemed just as unlikely that individuals would face lawsuits until it happened.

Among the headline grabbing lawsuits was a Minnesota woman who had downloaded 24 songs in here life — the initial court ruling came down as a $1.5 million verdict, it was eventually reduced to $220,000.

Despite warnings from attorneys like Dukarski, it doesn’t appear that illegal streaming is going away.

KODI has become a popular tool for streaming media online, and while the software is 100-percent legal a number of third-party add-ons can be used to stream illegal content. Dukarski noted that despite the commercial success of HBO’s Game of Thrones program, it also holds the record for being the most illegally streamed television show in history.

A survey by Finder.com found more than 5-percent of adults who watched the show admitted to watching the show without paying for it.

“If you know you’re not paying for an HBO subscription and you’re binge watching over the weekend you’re really in a bad, bad position,” said Dukarski. “And there’s a lot of risks that aren’t simply someone coming to knock on your door to arrest you — there is also the risk of your computer as many of these illegal sites are littered with malware.”