Monday, 22 May 2017 15:18

Kodi KILLERS - Major UK crackdown will block illegal streams within ‘months

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KODI is under threat as UK government looks to change internet laws with illegal streaming “high up on their agenda.”

Kodi-style boxes which allow users to stream illegal content straight to their TVs have become increasingly popular over the past few years.

A recent study by YouGov suggests that over five million boxes are already in UK homes and that number is set to grow at an alarming rate.

In fact, the poll suggests the problem is getting so big it could pose a serious threat to subscription TV brands such as Amazon, Netflix and Sky.

Kodi software itself is not illegal and the company behind it are actually trying to distance themselves from pirated content.

However, the software can be changed with third-party add-ons providing access to pirated illegal of content. 

It’s these add-ons which are now being targeted with many of the UK’s ISPs, government agencies, broadcasters and rights holders joining forces to disrupt the streams being pushed out across the internet.

Speaking about the measures being put in place Kieron Sharp, FACT Chief Executive, told Express.co.uk: "You'll be aware of the Premier League case which has led to the blocking of streams by ISPs.

"With these in place what you'll find is the effectiveness of the add-ons within the boxes is being affected and there could be more in the way of blocks in the future.

"Another thing that's really quite important is the legality of accessing the content by the end users and there's likely to be changes there as well.

"If you look at the Premier League case it's clear the judge has stated that accessing those streams is unlawful.

"We also know the government is consulting on changes in the law around this type of activity.

"It's high up on their agenda and I think they realise this is an important issue.”

The European Court of Justice has just ruled that streaming copyrighted material for free on multimedia players such as Kodi is illegal.

Last week's landmark EU verdict means pirate streams are now on the same legal footing as illegal downloads.

And that’s not all Kodi users should be concerned about as there’s also the problem of control over the content being beamed into living rooms

"There are more of these boxes out there and they do plug straight into the television set.

"You don't have the same sorts of controls and protections that you will see through traditional television which is highly regulated.” Mr Sharp warned.

"Furthermore, if you're accessing content on platforms such as Sky you clearly know when you're in a kids section or adult section.

"On these illegal streams you're seeing adult content right next to kids content - it's very dangerous at a time when the government has launched its internet safety strategy.

"The more flexibility the government has to move away from EU rules the more they will clampdown on this type of activity.

"I can see quite an escalation and a response from government that's going to compliment the measures that a lot of people across the industry are doing.

"There's a lot happening and the landscape will look quite a bit different over the next 12 months."

Kodi is clearly causing concern and to show how seriously the threat is being taken a number of arrests have already been made with one man accused of selling "fully loaded" boxes hbeing fined a massive £250,000.

Malcolm Mayes, from Hartlepool, sold IPTV boxes, sometimes referred to as ‘Kodi’ boxes or ‘Android’ boxes, which had been modified to allow the users to freely view content that should otherwise be paid for.

Following his guilty plea Mr Mayes was sentenced to ten months in prison (suspended for one year) and ordered to pay costs of £170,000. A Proceeds of Crime Act order was also made against him for a further £80,000.

Speaking about the arrests and ongoing crackdown Mr Sharp added: “FACT are working together with The Premier League, and the broadcasters, Sky, BT Sport and Virgin Media, as well as a number of film distributors, to clampdown on the use of illegal IPTV boxes.

 “In the past four months a number of raids across the UK have been carried out resulting in multiple arrests involving the unlawful sale of set-top boxes fully loaded with copyright infringing apps and add-ons.

“Consumers need to be aware that devices that allow you access to premium pay-for TV channels without a legitimate subscription, or access to films that are not yet available to rent or buy, are illegal.

“Whilst end users are not a target, they could get swept up in one of our operations and become part of the whole criminal investigation, which could lead to prosecution alongside the suppliers, retailers and importers”

Read 870 times Last modified on Monday, 22 May 2017 21:21

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