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Kodi piracy boxes prompt investigation and consultation by IPO

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is launching an investigation and consultation on how best to tackle the problem of Kodi boxes, the set-top devices that allow Netflix-like access to pirated content. While a seller of those media streamers was arrested back in 2016, rights holders argue that Kodi piracy makes it easier than ever to circumvent copyright infringement.

Although BitTorrent piracy might be one of the oldest methods of acquiring copyright protected content, its barrier for entry is far lower than ever. Instead of requiring a dedicated PC, some knowledge of safe torrent sites and an understanding of video codecs, today pirates can pay for a Kodi box for a few pounds, and begin streaming almost any media they want. That’s not something British and international rights holders are very happy with.

Indeed they’ve been trying to crack down on Kodi boxes, named so for their software base, for well over a year, but despite some arrests, have yet to make much headway. The Kodi software used on the little Android devices is open-source, so is freely accessible and updateable and many believe that the current state of British law doesn’t give the authorities enough leeway to tackle the problem.

With that in mind, the IPO has now launched a consultation as part of an investigation into Kodi boxes and whether a legislative change is required in order to combat them. It’s looking for input from groups with experience in investigating streaming devices, as well as anyone with relevant information (as per TorrentFreak).

Despite some crackdowns, Kodi boxes are still widely available with unlocked content

Fortunately, the IPO does recognise that set top boxes in their own right, even those running third-party software, aren’t intrinsically illegal. In its consultation wording it points out that these sort of devices are legitimate, but that they can run software which gives them access to illegal content.

It points out that though there is some precedent for halting sales of such devices, the current legal framework doesn’t give copyright holders much teeth to prevent it on the scale that we’re now seeing with these types of devices.

We may see current, seemingly somewhat-unrelated, legislation applied to charged Kodi box seller, Brian Thompson, who was arrested in 2016, when his trial takes place later this year. The outcome of that trial may lead to changes in the way the law works. That said, current legislation does seem to cover most of the ‘crimes’ being committed in the creation, sale and use of the boxes, so it’s hard to imagine what sort of legislative change copyright holders might be looking for.

Discuss on our Facebook page, HERE.

KitGuru Says: While it’s good that the IPO is issuing a consultation before making any recommendations for legislative changes, opening the floor to rights holders who are likely to take a more draconian stance on this sort of piracy, isn’t necessarily likely to generate the most even of responses. 

NB. KitGuru does not support piracy in any guise.

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  • Chris D

    King Canute springs to mind.

  • Matt Booth

    They can’t stop the sale of the boxes. They can’t ban Kodi. They can’t ban my PC, server or seedbox. It’s just not their right or ability.

    None of the things mentioned are illegal. Kodi is legal. Plex is legal. Deluge is legal. Bit torrent is legal.

    Trying to stop the sale of these set top boxes is seriously stupid.

    Instead, they should try to compete with piracy and make paying for content rewarding. Otherwise, if the reward is that you’ve saved thousands of pounds and copyright holders have nothing to offer but a hole in your wallet, then piracy will always win and there isn’t a single method available to stop it.

  • JohnA

    Couldn’t agree more with you. You sir, win the Internet today.

  • silvergamer007

    What’s even funnier is by making such a fuse about kodi they are introducing it to a wider audience that would have not even have considered it until it was all over the news. So they have arrested 5 people but introduced hundreds of thousands to kodi … well done idiots…

  • keithbe

    Rather than wasting money trying to fight “piracy” adapt. Not all movies are worth seeing at the cinema. Not all people want to watch at a cinema. Like the music industry releases should be world wide and streaming services shouldn’t only receive content 12 months later. Surely the studio’s could come up with a consolidated service far superior to any offering out there.

  • Chris Hindley

    It seems the TV and movie rights holders are in the same pridicament that the music industry was in during the late 90’s with Napster and MP3 files. There were no places that sold MP3s or DRM encrypted AAC music at the time, then iTunes happened. There was a revolution and now many places sell music cheaply online.

    There needs to be a similar set of services set up to take advantage of video streaming with Android devices, other than Google Video who seem to charge a lot for rentals. At the moment the choice is very limited, only subscription TV services are available, like NowTV from Sky, Amazon and Netflix. In the US they have Hulu, Yahoo TV, HBO Go and several other services we just don’t have here. Until we do have these services, piracy will continue to be rampant.

    Content rights holders need to start offering their products direct to the public, even if that means abolishing Geoblocking for example. Otherwise they will continue to lose money.

  • moonwatcher2001

    If you are watching something and not paying for it, it is stealing, correct? If everyone did this then studios will stop making as many movies because their revenue streams for post theater use of content will dry up.

    Yes, the price of renting a movie via Google Play is expensive, maybe more than it should be in an ideal world, but that isn’t for us to say. And it can be argued that those who are stealing the content are inherently making the prices higher for those who don’t. It’s like someone breaking into a Redbox kiosk, taking all the movies home, watching them, then dumping them back into the parking lot and saying they’ve done nothing wrong.

    But it is difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. It will be interesting to see how the studios and content providers work to fight this piracy, or even if they can.

    Will it take some USERS getting taken to court (at least here in the U.S) and taken to the cleaners in order to put the fear of God into millions of other users? Perhaps.