uBox Review: $399 devices that stream copyrighted content
There is no information on the uBox website indicating who owns or runs the business.
The uBox website does have an “about us” link, however clicking this link simply redirects a visitor back to the uBox website homepage.
The uBox website domain (“uboxlive.com”) was registered on the 5th of January 2015 and lists a Hyolee Ung as the domain owner. An address in the US state of California is also provided.
A corporate address for uWay LLC in Newport Beach, California is provided on the uBox website. Noticeably this differs from the address provided in the uBox domain registration.
Who Hyolee Ung is or what their position in or connection to uBox is remains a mystery. I was unable to find any further information on this individual, either in connection to uBox or the MLM industry at large.
The email address used to register the uBox domain belongs to Lily Ung.
A classified ad published on “drbill.com” reveals that Ung ‘is a salesperson real estate agent in Irvine, CA‘.
Whether Hyolee Ung and Lily Ung are the same person is unclear.
Further research reveals multiple corporate uBox presentations, in which an individual named Roscoe Umali (right) is credited as the CEO and President of uBox.
Umali is from the Philippines and has been performing as a hip-hop artist in the US for some time now. uBox would appear to be his first MLM venture.
Why this information is not made available on the uBox website is unclear.
Read on for a full review of the uBox MLM business opportunity.
The uBox Product Line
uBox market a streaming box that carries the same name as the company.
Streaming Media Players seamlessly combine live TV and the best in streaming entertainment – bringing more hit shows, movies, music and more to your TV.
The uBox device is advertised as
- running on Android 4.2.2
- supporting 1080P Full HD Video Decoding and Most Video Formats and
- having Built-in WIFI and External Antenna for Stable Receiving
Taken from a uBox affiliate presentation, here’s a screenshot of the uBox user interface:
As per the uBox FAQ, their streaming box runs XBMC.
For those unfamiliar with the platform,
Kodi (formerly XBMC) is a free and open-source media player software developed by the XBMC Foundation, a non-profit technology consortium. (Wikipedia)
Through use of their uBox device, uBox claim their customers can access
- 100,000 Movies + TV Shows!
- 1000+ Channels
- Over 500 Live Global Radio Stations
- Live Worldwide Sporting Events
- The Latest Movies in HD
- TV Without Commercials and
- All Seasons + Episodes of TV Shows
The uBox Compensation Plan
The uBox compensation plan revolves around affiliates selling uBox devices for $399, either with uBox affiliate membership (an extra $50) or to retail customers.
The devices can also be purchased by affiliates at wholesale and then resold to retail customers.
When a uBox affiliate signs up for $50 or $449, they are then able to purchase uBox devices for $250.
These devices can then be resold to non-uBox affiliates.
uBox affiliates who sell the uBox device for $399 off the uBox website receive a $150 commission.
When a uBox affiliate signs up a new uBox affiliate at the $449 level, they receive a $150 commission.
Residual commissions in uBox are paid out using a unilevel style compensation structure.
A unilevel style compensation structure sees an affiliate placed at the top of a unilevel team, with every personally recruited affiliate placed on level 1:
If any of these level 1 affiliates go and recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 2. If any level 2 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 3 and so on and so forth down a theoretical infinite number of levels.
uBox cap payable unilevel levels at 7, with how much of a commission paid out determined by what level a newly recruited affiliate is placed in their unilevel team:
- level 1 (personally recruited affiliates) – $150
- level 2 – $20
- level 3 – $10
- levels 4 and 5 – $5
- level 6 – $3
- level 7 – $7
uBox takes $5 out of every uBox device sale and places it into what they call the Presidential Pool.
uBox affiliates can qualify for shares in the pool via recruitment of new uBox affiliates:
- recruit 25 affiliates = 1 share in the pool
- recruit 100 or more affiliates = 2 shares in the pool
Affiliate membership with uBox is either $50 or $449.
The $449 affiliate membership is bundled with one uBox device.
The danger with the uBox compensation plan is that it’s entirely possible to focus on chain-recruitment of affiliates and ignore retail altogether.
As uBox CEO and President Roscoe Umali puts it,
If I were to introduce my friend to the opportunity, he says “Hey this looks great, I’d like to join on as a distributor”, well for me introducing him to the opportunity, I would make $150.
If uBox affiliates are making retail sales, and as such retail revenue is higher than affiliate revenue flowing into the company, there isn’t a problem.
In a uBox promotional video however, Umali claims that ‘95% of people who buy the box pay the extra $50‘ to become an affiliate.
This suggests a lack of standalone retail viability for the uBox device, with people only purchasing it because of the attached MLM income opportunity.
Further evidence of this is the fact that, again according to Umali, uBox pay “$205 out of the $399” charged for each device “back to the field” in commissions.
How is that going to compete with devices of similar specifications?
A lack of retail activity is problematic because without it, the uBox opportunity effectively deteriorates into a product-based pyramid scheme.
The other major issue lies with the legality of the uBox device itself.
As is, the device is not illegal – it’s computer hardware running freely available software.
The issue is in how uBox market their device:
100,000 Movies + TV Shows!
Over 500 Live Global Radio Stations
Live Worldwide Sporting Events
The Latest Movies in HD
TV Without Commercials
All Seasons + Episodes of TV Shows
Needless to say uBox themselves do not hold the distribution rights to any of the content provided through their device.
In an attempt to absolve themselves of legal liability, the company displays the following message on their website:
Our software provides links to content that is already posted on the internet. We do not host any content nor do we know who does. We do not promote illegal conduct of any kind.
Anticipating questions regarding the issue, in a video titled “How uBox is legal in the US”, Umali explains:
Let me just explain a little bit because I know you guys probably have some questions.
You’re wondering “what’s going on here? These guys get these new movies…”, you see these Asian guys walking around showing us bootleg movies, what’s going on here?
What this technology we’ve developed does is called “file-scraping”.
So all it’s doing is simply file-scraping the entire internet and searching for the best possible feed.
Now once it’s latched itself to the best possible feed, it draws it back into the box and out through the HDMI cord and onto your television screen.
What this box does not allow you to do, is it does not allow you to download, it does not allow you to duplicate, it does not allow you to host anything that you see on here.
So basically what we’re doing and the reason why we’re able to become compliant, is because we’re operating in an unregulated space.
Now that we’ve created this box and all we’re doing is streaming, we’re completely compliant.
The movies? This still doesn’t give you an explanation as to why and how do we get access to the movies early.
I kind of goes back to Hollywood and the Hollywood story, and we can all agree that Hollywood is a pretty profitable industry – they know how to make money.
That’s because they don’t… they rarely take any losses.
Because, let’s say American Sniper for instance, costed $50 million dollars to create. Well, before it’s ever shown here in the United States of America, the first thing that they do is they go all around the world selling the licensing agreements to each and every country.
They go all around the world and make sure they recoup their entire film budget before ever hitting the United States of America.
The reason why we’re able to get these movies earlier is because, what’s happening is, you have countries such as China that have a different type of copyright than they do in the States.
To where, when a movie comes out in theaters in China, it comes out on DVD the same exact day.
So when that happens, it’s kinda like, ok what’s to stop a person who owns the DVD in China from putting it on a computer and uploading it into the cloud, to be accessed from the rest of the world?
Y’know I try to tell people it’s the world wide web, not just the American wide web.
This technology has been around, it’s been there in China for the last seven years. They’ve moved something close to a billion units similar to this.
That’s because over there they don’t have any traditional cable companies … the only way they can access US programming is through the internet.
So what we did was we took the box, that kind of technology, and we got it compliant with everything that’s shown here.
Putting aside the fact that legitimate content distribution services do exist in China, the claim that uBox operate in some sort of unregulated space is… for lack of a better word, complete bullshit.
There is no escaping the fact that uBox market a purpose-built device that is designed to access streams of copyrighted content without compensating the copyright holders. Nor does uBox hold the distribution license to any content streamed through their device.
You might be able to get away with this in China, but uBox are headquartered, operating in and marketing in the US.
Between uBox and vStream TV (a competing streambox MLM also launched recently), how US regulators react to MLM companies marketing purpose-built devices designed to bypass legal distribution channels for copyrighted content, remains to be seen.
And that’s on top of the compensation plan that’s likely to attract little to no retail (around 5% as estimated by the company’s CEO).
Feel free to call up any regulatory agency in the US and ask them about selling a purpose-built device designed to stream copyright content at no charge. Also ask them what they think about an attached business opportunity .
Oh and don’t forget the holders of the copyright for the content. Movie studios, televisions channels (HBO features on numerous uBox marketing videos)… also feel free to call them up and ask what they think about MLM companies pirating their content on purpose-built devices they’re selling for $399 a pop.
Despite claiming to be legally complaint in the US, I can guarantee you now that uBox have not approached any US regulator and/or copyright holder and asked them to certify as much.
Approach with extreme caution.
Update 14th April 2016 – In October last year Roscoe Umali was indicted for mortgage fraud. He plead guilty late last month and is scheduled to be sentenced in June.
Update 23rd August 2016 – On August 18th Roscoe Umali was sentenced to 18 years and 8 months in a Californian prison.