Legal threats force Roku app creator to remove pirate streams

F2V TV says it only provides access to streams that are found on the Internet; broadcasters suggest the developer doesn't attempt to vet them.
(Logo via F2V TV/Roku Channel Store, Graphic by The Desk)

The curator of a popular, free Roku app was forced to pull several streaming broadcast channels over concerns of piracy, according to people familiar with the matter.

Georges Brunet, the Canada-based creator of F2V TV, recently said he was served with legal demands from several broadcasters ordering him to remove streams of channels like Me TV, Cozi TV, Start TV and Decades that were illegally transmitted over the Internet by pirate broadcasters.

F2V TV was not accused of broadcasting any of the channels illegally, but instead served as an aggregator of streams that were found elsewhere on the Internet. None of the streams offered by F2V TV were legal, the broadcasters contend in their notice, and Brunet did not appear to vet the legality of the streams that were aggregated by his service.

The streams were all removed earlier this month after Brunet was served with legal notices from Comcast’s NBC Universal, which operates Cozi TV, and Weigel Broadcasting, which operates a handful of digital-only broadcast networks.

Officials for Comcast and Weigel Broadcasting were unavailable for comment, but a source at one of the broadcast outlets said they were unaware of anyone at F2V TV or Roku attempting to contact them before distributing the illegal streams through the Roku app.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Brunet disputed receiving any legal notices from Comcast and said the letter received from Weigel was not a “legal threat.”

I voluntarily took down the other [broadcast] streams because they also, evidently, were not from legal places [as] I was informed that they were,” Brunet said, without providing information as to how he assesses the legality of the streams he distributes.

his was simply a mistake and I would not intentionally violate distribution agreements with the streams that are curated in our apps or other aspects of the Free2View TV Project,” Brunet said.

F2V TV operated as a “secret” Roku channel that required a special code in order for users to download it. The app received official approval from Roku earlier this year for distribution in the company’s Roku Channel store. It was not clear if Roku had an internal policy that ensured apps had the legal right to redistribute copyrighted content. A spokesperson for Roku has not yet returned a request for comment.

The F2V TV app was still available to download in the Roku Channel store as of Monday afternoon. It continues offering access to streams of several over-the-air broadcast channels, including Buzzr, NBC LX, Ion Television and Stadium.

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