To what extent can creators be held responsible for the ways in which their creations are used, particularly if those uses fall outside of what is legal or ethical? It's a worthwhile question to consider these days. We've more technology in our hands —quite literally in the case of smartphones— than could have been dreamt of by technologists of yore, and yet all of that tech and all of those tools being readily available to so many means that there are those who would use them for less than legitimate means. You can think of identity theft and the dark web and any number of other nefarious enterprises and wonder how much blame is apportioned to those who helped to create the internet, a consideration that's probably unfair given how unlikely it was for anyone to imagine what the internet would become.
A more direct application of that question is playing out in a copyright complaint against a media player from a major television provider, playing out in Google's version of an app store. TorrentFreak reports that the unnamed pay TV provider took up the complaint against Perfect Player, a media player app that is capable of being used to view Internet Protocol television (IPTV), many of which are illegal streams of copyrighted material. Google clearly took the complaint seriously and removed Perfect Player out of the Google Play store, citing that the app allows users to watch said illegal streams and is therefor in violation of the store rules.
That argument is a bit fraught, however. Perfect Player itself is not expressly designed to encourage IPTV streaming; rather, it's a tool that can be used to the good or ill of the individual downloader. It doesn't come preloaded with lists or links to illegal streams, or even with a wink and a nod towards those practices. It's simply a bit of code on a computer, as benign and innocent as any application might be, if we're to ascribe human traits to technology. The blame falls to the users, but as copyright holders can't get to tens of thousands of illicit actors, it's simpler and quicker to simply take away the tools used in commission of violations, even if it's on dubious grounds.
It's another example of large copyright holders wielding hammers as the only tool in their copyright arsenal — a tool which, fittingly, can be used as a weapon, outside of its expressed design and purpose. Copyright infringement is a issue that content producers are keen to combat, particularly in this age when copyrighted materials are so easy to disseminate. But if the designers and apps that are unwittingly being used to violate copyright are to be the targets of their ire, we could see more and more ostensibly legitimate tech shut down before this is all over, and that could have a chilling effect on innovators the world over.