They charge €130 for the IPTV box that streams any movie, but you can get yours for free

So called 'android boxes' going on sale for €130 will give you any film you want... but is this a fair price for an open source programme that you can freely download on your computer, and connect to your TV?

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
3 September 2015, 8:42am
On any given day in any country in the world, somebody is streaming the latest movie to hit the cinema screens, or the latest episode of True Detective and perhaps Manchester United’s opener against Tottenham Hotspurs.

It will cost billions for companies like Sky, and a pretty penny for local hosts GO or Melita, to acquire TV rights to football matches and other broadcast rights for the hottest Hollywood and TV productions.

For the rest of us who join the open-source revolution – pirates all of us – it costs nothing.

This audience of unauthorised streams is now estimated in the millions globally. It is no secret in Malta that IPTV (internet-protocol TV) is being used to access channels that neither GO nor Melita is offering.

Satellite TV is a business run from garages by hobbyists, equipped with dozens of servers, streaming directly to paying customers. Apps like FilmOn, available on smartphone and tablet platforms, have given access to TV viewers to a suite of English cable channels being streamed live.

But the billion-dollar industry of TV and filmmaking is now being challenged by further deregulation, thanks to platforms like Kodi, which is now being retailed on the popular ‘Android Box’ for some €130. 

The Kodi app is the essential feature that fuels the attraction for the €130 media boxes being retailed on the island. Formally known as the X-Box Media Centre or XBMC, it’s the add-ons and plug-ins on Kodi that enhance its function.

The user interface on Genesis, which is added on to Kodi, is what makes this torrent-streaming application so popular.
The user interface on Genesis, which is added on to Kodi, is what makes this torrent-streaming application so popular.
Not just. Kodi is free and open-source – which is why retailers are spending some serious cash in TV advertising to drive sales and book ridiculous profits on their media boxes.

The big attraction on Kodi is the Genesis movie add-on, which allows users to play almost any movie and TV show, including the latest episodes being aired now on international networks like HBO. 

The compelling feature of the Genesis add-on is its simplicity and user-friendly interface. Searching for a movie will take you to some 100 ‘links’ to streaming services, and the film will – in most cases but not for all links – load and play seamlessly. Everything is done inside the Kodi platform – the service does not take users into an internet browser.

And apart from Genesis, other media streaming services like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and more are also available.

The Kodi platform was developed by the XBMC Foundation, a non-profit consortium, It has been designed specifically for large-screen TVs, rendered easy to install and maintain, and blessed with a user interface that is simple and intuitive for those who are not tech-savvy people to use it.

But is it legal?

Many internet users are acquainted with the ability of downloading torrents to watch movies, usually available on controversial websites like Pirate Bay, whose co-founder, Fredrik Neij, was only recently released from prison on a 10-month sentence for enabling copyright infringement.

Which is why the Genesis add-on runs towards the grey area of legality, because it enables users to watch copyrighted content without the required subscriptions. The technology itself doesn’t violate any laws. But copyright holders would surely say that using Genesis to watch films for free is a violation of copyright.

Retailers of the Android box whose main attraction is the Genesis add-on say they are legal by virtue of a European Court of Justice decision of 2012, in the case between the Premier League and a pub landlady from Portsmouth named Karen Murphy, when it ruled that live sporting events could not be regarded as “intellectual creations”.

They were instead “subject to rules of the game, leaving no room for creative freedom”. The court decided that “accordingly, those events cannot be protected under copyright”.

How to watch movies and TV shows free

Connect your computer using an HDMI cable and then download the Kodi platform and Genesis add-on to start watching your favourite movies and TV shows (all for the cost of an HDMI cable…)

Connecting your computer to the TV

You need a computer that has an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port, an HDMI cable, and an HDTV that you can use to plug into and watch. Mac users will need a firewire-to-HDMI cable.

Configure your computer to use HDMI

Depending on your TV’s screen output, you will have to configure this with your computer. If your HDTV only has a 720p output, that’s what you have to select. For Mac users, the View menu should prompt you to choose the type of display you have. Consult the following link for more help: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204388

For Windows users, you will have to go into Control Panels and select “Adjust screen resolution”. On that window you’ll see that it shows there are two different displays, but one of them will be disabled. To remedy this, click on the second monitor, then choose “Extend the desktop onto this monitor” and click “Apply”. More help from this link: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/tech-tips-and-tricks/dave-taylor-hdmi-article.html

Installing Kodi

There are many online tutorials, as well as on YouTube, showing how to install the Kodi platform and then add the Genesis add-on. We recommend the following links.

Install Kodi from the official source website here: http://kodi.tv/download/

And then install Genesis using this tutorial: https://seo-michael.co.uk/how-to-manually-install-gotv-for-xbmc/

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.