The once-popular Kodi addon repository TVAddons is in serious trouble.
The unofficial source for addons to legal streaming service Kodi has long been used as a repository for addons which can be downloaded to access content including television shows, films, music, and international channels.
However, the repository is currently engaged in a lawsuit brought forward by Bell Canada, TVA, Videotron and Rogers, Canadian telecommunications firms aiming to wipe the website off the face of the internet.
The tech giants first filed a complaint against TVAddons in June this year, and in particular, website owner and operator Adam Lackman.
The companies claim that by providing links and promoting access to Kodi addons, Lackman was personally infringing their copyright.
The plaintiffs in the case were awarded an Anton Pillar order, issued by courts to give law enforcement access to residencies in order to preserve evidence relating to a civil lawsuit.
According to Lackman, from Montreal, a search and seizure took place at his home for roughly 16 hours, resulting in a long interrogation and the seizure of his personal computer, as well as domain names and accounts unrelated to TVAddons.
"TVAddons is an unofficial Kodi add-on development site, it does not host nor link to any type of protected content," the organization says. "It was contended that out of the 1500+ addons indexed on TVAddons, less than one percent were what the plaintiffs considered to be allegedly 'infringing.'"
Lackman was also reportedly barred from mounting a defense due to an interim injunction and due to the fact the operation took place in secret. Otherwise known as ex parte, this is a legal practice usually reserved for urgent matters related to personal abuse and the possibility of irreparable harm.
However, it seems that law enforcement went too far. The "Canadian telecom cartel," as Lackman branded the plaintiffs, did not issue a takedown notice -- as required by law -- and the court later found the Anton Pillar order and interrogation to have breached the website operator's rights.
As a result, the injunction was denied, investigators were ordered to return everything, and TVAddons was allowed to continue on as normal.
Except, it is no longer a normal day in the life of Lackman. A stay of execution was awarded to the telecoms giants which prevent the return of Lackman's property and accounts or domain names, and without the return of such control, the community is vanishing -- reducing visitor rates and trust, as well as placing the future of TVAddons in jeopardy, despite moving to another domain.
The aim of destroying TVAddons has been, therefore, partially achieved.
Speaking to the publication, Lackman said:
"Google is the most popular site on the internet. If Google was down for a day, you'd check back tomorrow. If it was down for a week, you'd check back a week later. If it was down for a month, maybe you'd try once in a while. However, if Google was down for more than six months, would you return in a year from now? Probably not. And that's Google, not a small community site like TVAddons."
Hundreds of thousands of users once followed TVAddons on various social media platforms, but without being able to access these accounts and inform users of the new domain and accounts, visitor rates and engagement has been crippled.
Not only does the future look somewhat bleak and only time will tell if it will recover, but TVAddons is also facing an upcoming lawsuit from Dish Network.
"TVAddons has always worked within the framework of the law, there's no reason for us to lose, assuming we can afford to pay our lawyers," the company says.