A piracy lawsuit is tearing Kodi's add-on community apart

ZemTV, Phoenix and Salts are all unavailable as legal pressure mounts.

Some of the biggest third-party Kodi streaming addons are no longer available. TorrentFreak reports that ZemTV and Phoenix have recently closed following a lawsuit from US satellite broadcaster Dish Network, with other streaming add-ons following suit. The add-ons, which offer on-demand and live streamed content free of charge, are accused of direct copyright infringement of various TV channels.

In a statement on the TVAddons forum, Phoenix developer Cosmix confirmed the closure, but didn't elaborate on the exact reason why: "In light of current events we have decided to close down Phoenix," he said. "This is not something that was easy for us to do; we have all formed a bond that cannot be broken as a team and have a HUGE support base that we are thankful of."

It's thought that while the Dish lawsuit is currently focused on other streaming add-ons, developers like Cosmix are distancing themselves (full list here) from any potential legal action due to the costs involved. Many Kodi developers consider themselves hobbyists and administer add-ons in their free time for no financial reward.

As copyright infringement damages can run into the hundreds of thousands (the Dish Network suit demands $150,000 per infringement), developers could be hit hard. ZemTV was removed from the TVAddons library as soon as it was named in the lawsuit and One242415 -- the developer behind Navi-X, Phoenix and his own add-on -- also announced that his creations will cease working in the coming days.

ZemTV rose to prominence as a reliable source of live TV streams from around the world. Phoenix, on the other hand, offered access to TV shows, movies and live sport, which led it to become one of the banner add-ons advertised by retailers selling "fully-loaded" Kodi boxes. In April, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruled that sales of streaming boxes that come pre-loaded with piracy add-ons constitute copyright infringement, which could lead to a European crackdown on such hardware.

Kodi -- the company behind the popular media center -- often finds itself entangled in legal action, even though it actively discourages the promotion of piracy add-ons on its platform. It provides the open source software but doesn't dictate which add-ons are allowed on the platform.

Instead, it asks that developers of so-called piracy add-ons don't affiliate themselves with Kodi. The team dreams of having legitimate services like Amazon and Netflix offer their own apps, but that's a tough ask when it's constantly having to deal with the negativity around illegal streaming add-ons on its platform.