The Risks of Streaming Illegal Content Through Amazon Fire Stick - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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The Risks of Streaming Illegal Content Through Amazon Fire Stick

Criminal copyright infringement is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Crooks have figured out a way to manipulate Amazon's Fire Stick, unleashing stolen content that anyone can access. (Published Monday, May 22, 2017)

    The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a popular device designed to make streaming easier than ever before.

    With the device, consumers no longer have to connect their laptops to their television or have a fancy smart TV to watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon video and premium channels like HBO.

    The stick connects to all, but we've learned there's a loophole that’s giving people access to even more.

    "You can view all the new movies and stuff that are out," said Randy Haba, a tech expert at DKB Innovative. 

    Online you can find videos of self proclaimed "jailbreak instructors" showing users how to get all the movies and shows they've ever wanted for nothing. But do not get confused — this is illegal.

    Movies like the Fate of the Furious and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 can all be found.

    Haba said the Fire Stick itself is completely harmless, but instructors in the online videos are teaching users how to download and reconstruct an app that gives access to an enormous amount of content for free, which is illegal.

    Amazon wanted to leave it open to where you could install third-party plug-ins that may not be available through their Amazon store.

    "But again, once you open that hole, you allow vulnerability for people to load anything you want," said Haba.

    He said many of the folks who are just watching the stolen content don’t realize they’re breaking the law.

    "You're putting yourself in the condition where the FBI could come after you and prosecute you."

    The thieves who steal video content have become much more sophisticated over the years.

    "You used to have physical locations where you would mass reproduce these movies," said Haba. "Now, it's just somebody sitting behind a computer converting it and sticking it somewhere where it's streaming-friendly."

    But can the FBI see who's watching the content? Haba said it's definitely possible.

    "We're all connected on the Internet. Somebody, somewhere is looking at information, passing in and out of servers worldwide. You're taking a risk, you could get away with it, but for how long?"

    Amazon declined to comment on the misuse of its Fire Stick.

    If you search for “How to Unlock Fire Stick” on Amazon.com, you will find a dozen books that will tell you how to do that.

    Keep in mind the FBI says criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.


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