Kodi box streaming is illegal
Those who stream copyright-protected content – like Premier League matches – on so-called Kodi boxes are breaking the law, the National Trading Standards has confirmed.
However individuals device owners are unlikely to be caught, it added.
That's because the consumer protection group does not have the resources to hunt down individual users.
Kodi is an open-source media player software which can be installed on a broad range of devices.
The media player software is completely legal.
However, the software can be used to run third-party plug-ins which enable users to access copyrighted material for free – uploaded, shared or streamed from other users across the globe.
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Some estimates place 20 million devices running Kodi in use in the UK at the moment.
Kodi is not the only software that can be used for nefarious streaming, however, it is one of the most popular.
According to the UK Intellectual Property Office, the proliferation of set-top boxes with all of the required software and plug-ins preinstalled – sold at relatively low prices online – that has triggered a sharp increase in use from consumers.
These ready-made streaming set-top boxes, which are manufactured by a variety of different brands, that are colloquially dubbed Kodi Boxes.
Howard Turton, of the National Trading Standards North East Regional Investigations Team, spoke to Express.co.uk about these so-called streaming boxes.
Some estimates place 20 million devices running Kodi in use in the UK
He told Express.co.uk: "The law as we see it, as we are advised by our legal people, is that if you are a public house, or club, or a business of that nature, who is illegally accessing this particular content – if you're streaming it, you are committing an offence.
"If you are Joe public, who has bought one of these boxes, technically you might be committing an offence – but it's very difficult for enforcement bodies to tackle a person in their own home doing this type of thing.
"In all truth, we wouldn't be doing that. It's the same as the end-user of counterfeit goods like trainers or any type of trademarked item, we [National trading Standards] don't tackle the person who is buying the product at the end – Joe public.
"We will if they are a trade body – if they are a pub or a club – they can be dealt with. The Premier League, Sky and BT, who also all prosecute independently, they've tackled publicans.
"But we [National trading Standards] wouldn't in that situation.
"They are not being tackled because we haven't got the resources and it's impossible to tackle the end-user, so people then, because of that, believe that [streaming content] is legal."
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Kodi and other open-source media players have come under increased scrutiny during recent months.
Earlier this month, a UK court order granted the Premier League the means to block the servers that broadcast free live streams of matches online.
The new court order would prevent those running Kodi-powered devices from tuning into the sport fixtures for free.
Before the ruling earlier this month, rights-holders only had the ability to close individual streams, which could easily be restarted from a new server.
A spokesperson for Premier League said the new powers will allow the organisation to target pirates in a "precise manner".
"For the first time this will enable the Premier League to disrupt and prevent the illegal streaming of our matches via IPTV, so-called Kodi, boxes," he told the BBC.
Instead of watching Premier League matches and other sport fixtures via illicit extensions for the Kodi software, fans are being urged to pay for a Sky Sports or BT Sport subscription.
The transition to official sport channels could cost those who are used to streaming content with unlawful online streams more than £850.
Last September, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) branded the use of Kodi software to tune into pirated streams an "epidemic".