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article imageIllegal piracy-enabling Kodi streaming boxes seized by police

By James Walker     Feb 8, 2017 in Technology
Five traders have been arrested for allegedly modifying Kodi streaming boxes that let you watch subscription TV channels for free. The set-top boxes were sold online for profit before the operation was closed down by copyright theft enforcement agents.
The UK's Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) joined police forces and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in dawn raids against the suspected traders this morning. So-called "fully loaded" Kodi boxes were found at the homes of five of the people involved. The four men and one woman were questioned at police stations and then released on bail pending further investigation.
Kodi is a free open-source media centre program that can be installed on PCs, handheld devices and a variety of set-top boxes. It lets you access films, TV shows, music and photos in one centralised location and is often used to convert older TVs into smart ones.
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Kodi itself is not illegal. However, its open-source nature means it can easily be modified. Third-party plugins can remove Kodi's mechanisms for preventing content piracy, enabling users to stream copyrighted TV shows and movies without having to pay. The traders arrested this morning are accused of selling set-top boxes with the plugins already installed, aiming to make money from the fuly loaded devices. Collectively, over £250,000 has been made from the scheme.
FACT said the action is part of a wider crackdown on copyright infringement in the U.K. It comes after illegal set-top box seller Terry O'Reilly was sentenced to four years in prison in December 2016. Today's raids were conducted at the request of Sky, Virgin Media, BT Sport and the Premier League. Yesterday, three further Cease and Desist notices were sent to lower-level offenders.
"Today's day of action should send out a clear warning to anyone involved in the sale and distribution of illegal set-top boxes that law enforcement and industry take this matter very seriously," said Kieron Sharp, Director General of FACT. "Set-top boxes loaded with apps and add-ons allowing access to copyright infringing material are very much illegal and anyone involved in selling these boxes should not be surprised to receive a knock on the door."
Earlier this month, Kodi reached version 17.0 on Windows, Android, MacOS and iOS. The major new release includes an overhauled interface, "numerous improvements" to the program's Live TV functionality and changes to the music library that increase browsing speed. Version 17.0 is also the first to be offered directly from Microsoft Windows Store, adding another platform to the app's officially supported list.
With Kodi's popularity showing no signs of declining, traders are likely to continue selling modified boxes that let people stream premium content straight into their homes. The company hasn’t officially responded to FACT's "day of action" but last year announced legal action in a bid to separate itself from being associated with piracy.
More about kodi, Streaming, Media, Copyright, Piracy
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