To a certain segment of the population, just mentioning IPTV is enough to get them frothing at the mouth and shouting “copyright infringement” at anyone who will listen. This isn’t entirely without cause, of course, as IPTV is a technology that can be used to infringe by streaming copyrighted TV shows and films. There are entire sites out there that list such infringing content, as well. But the fact remains that IPTV is a tool, not content that infringes copyright itself. As such, there are plenty of IPTV-related tools and uses out there that are perfectly legit.
Like Perfect Player, for instance. Perfect Player is an android app that allows the user to choose what IPTV playlists from 3rd party providers can be played. In other words, it’s essentially a media player for IPTV streams. Upon installation, it does not come with infringing playlists to stream. What is watched on the player is entirely the choice of the end user. Despite all of this, one unnamed major pay-TV company filed a copyright complaint against the app with Google, arguing that because end users can use Perfect Player to infringe on copyright, the app itself was infringing. Google, frustratingly, complied and has delisted the app from the Play Store.
This week, however, the software – which has in excess of a million downloads from Google Play – was removed by Google because of a copyright complaint. It was filed by a major pay-TV provider, the name of which we’ve agreed not to publish while the complaint is ongoing.
It states that the software allows users to watch channels from unauthorized sources and is therefore illegal. However, there appears to be a considerable flaw in the pay-TV company’s arguments.
In common with the developers behind various torrent clients, Perfect Player’s developer doesn’t dictate how the software is used because no control can be exercised over that. Just like Windows Media Player, uTorrent, or even VLC (which has similar capabilities), it can be used for entirely legal purposes – or not, depending on the choice of the user.
In other words, it’s a tool. Now, the entertainment industry has a long and storied history of pretending that tools that have perfectly legitimate uses are the world’s greatest devils and somehow themselves infringe copyright. This goes back to the Betamax, and likely before that. But this particular case is one that ought to have the attention of a great many software providers out there, if not hardware providers as well. As the TorrentFreak post notes, if Perfect Player is infringing, why isn’t Windows Media Player? They have the exact same capabilities. And, taken a step further, if Perfect Player is infringing because users can use it to infringe copyright, then why aren’t android phones themselves infringing?
Is that line of thought extreme and ridiculous? Of course it is, but it’s built off of the same ridiculous line of thinking as whoever complained about Perfect Player. TorrentFreak is rather charitable in positing that perhaps this TV company came across a version of Perfect Player that had already been loaded with pirate IPTV streams and is simply confused.
Giving the TV company the benefit of the doubt for a moment, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that it acquired a ready-configured copy of Perfect Player from a third-party that already contained a URL for a ‘pirate’ service. That could give the impression it’s a dedicated pirate app.
That being said, downloading a copy from Google Play would’ve highlighted the important differences between a non-configured player and one set up for piracy. That’s impossible now, of course, because Google has taken Perfect Player down.
The latest at the time of this writing is that Perfect Player will be filing a DMCA counternotice, having retained a lawyer. One hopes that some simple facts about what this app is and how it operates out of the box will be all that Google needs to get it relisted quickly. And maybe, just maybe, one TV industry player will learn a lesson about firing off DMCA notices without actually knowing what its talking about.
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