Rising in popularity, in a world on on-demand TV, are Kodi boxes.
A Kodi box is a type of set-top box, or plug in device that allows the user to access online content through streaming services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix.
These standard boxes are perfectly legal and are a good way to get access to content through different streaming services in one place.
However, due to the nature of the software used, the devices are vulnerable to modifications allowing users to add on additional application and access content for free bypassing any normal fees.
These ‘fully loaded’ Kodi boxes are in themselves legal but allow illegal access to works that are protected by copyright. Therefore, any use other than that of the standard box would amount to copyright infringement.
There has been a crackdown on the sale of these ‘fully loaded’ boxes by many major retailers as allowing them to be sold through their platforms could render them liable too.
This crackdown followed a number of arrests in relation to the boxes. There were also raids made by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) who were acting on behalf of the Premier League, Sky, BT Sport and Virgin Media. A key concern for these companies were the use of the boxes to access sports events online for free, bypassing the standard fee.
Amazon is the latest, and the other arguably that will have the biggest effect.
Not only through the Amazon site can you purchase items directly from Amazon, you can also purchase goods from others across the globe through their Marketplace.
The online marketplace runs without much involvement from Amazon itself therefore it is possible for this type of product to be sold without Amazon’s knowledge.
The company has now announced that anyone caught using its Marketplace to sell devices that “promote, facilitate or enable” illegal access to copyrighted TV and films for free will now have their accounts suspended.
This came with a warning regarding the selling and purchasing of goods that infringe copyright or any other protection. Any product that facilitates the infringement or unauthorised access to protected content is banned from the site.
There has also been an effort from the UK Intellectual Property Office, City of London Police and FACT to seek out the sources of these ‘fully loaded’ boxes. They have warned, however, that while the source of the boxes are their targets any users of the infringing equipment may be caught up in a an investigation and could be penalised.
Penalties for the creators of the boxes will continue on the same level as the imprisonment of Terry O’Reilly in December 2016. He received a sentence of four years imprisonment for selling the illegal boxes, the action brought by Premier League.
In relation to those using the boxes, it is unclear the level of penalty that would be imposed. However, clearly it is just not worth the risk.
So the moral of the story is stick to genuine legitimate sources to ensure you are safe from any copyright infringement action and you are not facilitating any criminal activity.
Stay Legal, Stay Genuine.