New Streaming Company Offering Free Access to Movies, TV Shows3 Oct, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel
MuViBox, a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based hardware company, has launched a controversial streaming video device it says allows users to watch movies and TV shows from the Internet for free — without a monthly subscription.
The $349.95 device is good for one TV, with MuViBox dropping the unit price to $225 when purchasing up to four devices.
With an online tutorial describing the ease with which a user can stream Showtime’s original series "Ray Donovan" — a show heretofore available only to linear pay-TV and Showtime OTT — MuViBox would appear to be heading toward a copyright infringement battle.
The same legal minefield shuttered Aereo TV when it attempted to sell a streaming device enabling subscribers access to copyright-protected digital airwaves of national and affiliate broadcasters.
MuViBox claims to be different — and legal.
“We use third-party programs written externally by programmers and developers," spokesperson Alex Morais said in a statement. "Our custom software allows you to view all your movies and shows without hosting, downloading or uploading the content.”
Specifically, Morais said streaming any third-party content is legal provided it isn’t downloaded. He said SVOD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Roku require viewers to download content.
A Roku spokesperson said she wasn’t familiar with MuViBox and declined comment.
Representatives from the Motion Picture Association of America and Netflix didn’t immediately respond to email requests for comment.
In a disclaimer, MuViBox said it does not “host or upload any video films, FLV, media files, avi, mov, mp4, Mpeg, DivX, DVD Rip or Torrent PSP, etc.”
The service said it only contains links to third-party sites that are located elsewhere (not on MuViBox) on the Internet.
“MuviBox is not responsible for what other people upload to [third-party] sites,” the company said in a statement.
That’s the same legal argument Napster employed unsuccessfully in court when fighting the recording industry in the early 2000s against alleged music piracy.
Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn, who is also EVP of StreamingMedia.com, said MuViBox is legal as a standalone streaming device provided it doesn’t have uploaded copyright-protected content from third parties.
“But if you encourage people to put software on [the device], help them do it or advertise that they do it, then it's illegal,” Rayburn said in an email.