What is a Kodi box, and is downloading Kodi illegal?
Kodi is an open-source media player that's available to install on a range of devices.
The software was previously known as XBMC, or Xbox Media Centre, since that was the only hardware is was designed to run on.
But that has changed over the years, as the media player evolved, thanks to hundreds of coders across the globe tinkering with the software.
Since it first launched back in 2003, Kodi has been shaped by some 500 developers and 200 translators.
And now the open-source media player runs on a whole host of different devices. In fact, some estimates place 20 million devices in use in the UK at the moment.
In a nutshell, it turns any desktop computer, server, smartphone, tablet or set-top box into a media player able to stream files from the internet, your home network or local HDD storage.
So, why is it so popular?
REVEALED: Most torrented shows on Pirate bay and Kickass Torrents Thu, January 19, 2017
THESE are the top 10 shows that have been illegally downloaded the most on torrent site such as the Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrents
Play slideshow PH 1 of 10
NUMBER 10: The Grand Tour is number 10 in the most downloaded shows
Well, unlike the Apple TV, Google ChromeCast or others, the Kodi media player is not restricted by licensing agreements, or a curated app store.
That means Kodi users can download a plethora of community-built apps, that might not be approved under the guidelines that govern the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and others.
It can also play a comprehensive list of file formats, with the only real exceptions being analogue media sources, encrypted Blu-Rays, and LaserDiscs.
Kodi is available as a native application for Android, Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows operating systems.
It is compatible with iOS, although your iPhone will have to be jailbroken to run the Kodi software.
Without any Add-Ons, the Kodi software is a little barebones
The only notable exceptions are ChromeOS and Windows Phone.
The latest version of the Kodi software is version 17.0 – nicknamed Krypton. It can be downloaded for free from the open-source media player's website.
So, what can you do with Kodi?
Well, naturally you can stream from your usual selection of online video on-demand apps, with Kodi support for the likes of ITV, BBC, Channel 4, Netflix, and more.
However there is also support to stream local media, from a network-connected hard drive, or media server.
But it's not all on-demand. The latest versions of the Kodi media player also has native support for live television broadcasts – provided you can link your set-top box to a TV server that supplies the content.
The software has its own electronic programme guide, or EPG, and DVR capabilities.
And as always, there are a plethora of community-created apps for live television, so you can customise your experience to your hearts' content.
In fact, it's really this customisation that has made Kodi such a popular choice.
The Kodi media player lets you stream from local, or networked storage, as well as online sources
The Kodi software itself is perfectly legal, however, it does allow users to install additional applications that allow them to access copyrighted material – uploaded, shared or streamed from other users across the globe.
However the problem with Kodi is that content is illegally taken from content providers like Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, Netflix, BBC Worldwide and others. Those who use the Kodi platform to acces this material would be taking a serious risk.
Obviously accessing the material in this manner is illegal.
One problem viewers who use the Kodi platform face is, unlike the carefully-curated Apple App Store or Google Play Store, it might not always be clear where the content is coming from – or whether it has been legally obtained.
By default, the Kodi media player is a little barebones.
Sky Q: Everything you need to know about Sky's revolutionary TV service Fri, January 29, 2016
Sky Q brings TV fans a new way to watch their favourite shows
Play slideshow Sky 1 of 16
Sky says their new Q service will set your TV free
Left with the unchanged default, the software is only really good for playing media from local or networked sources.
Additional capabilities can be added to the Kodi using the Add-On Manager, which is no different to the App Store on any other device – except everything is built and managed by the community, not a single for-profit company.
Add-Ons can allow you to access popular streaming and catch-up services. There are also Add-Ons that let you browse the web from your Kodi device, P2P file-sharing clients, and games.
There are also more powerful video game emulators.
And you won't need to buy a dedicated remote, since the Kodi has smartphone apps on both iOS and Android that let you control the software.
A number of online retailers, like eBay, have started to stock "fully loaded" Kodi boxes.
These are devices already ship with the Kodi open-source software, and a number of popular Add-Ons that the sellers think you'll want.
However, these often promise free access to copyrighted material via unofficial plug-ins that make services like Sky Sports free and can even stream 3pm Premier League kick-offs.
Earlier this month, five people accused of selling these "fully loaded" Kodi players were taken into custody following a series of early morning raids.
Director general of Fact, Kieron Sharp said: "These arrest should send out a clear warning to anyone involved in the sale and distribution of illegal set-top boxes.
"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."
FACT has started to crack down on the modified Kodi players following complaints from content providers including Sky, BT Sport, Virgin Media and the Premier League.
The Federation Against Copyright Theft, FACT, claims that some people may have made as much as £250,000 shifting dodgy Kodi boxes via social media, online forums and their own websites.
It is illegal to watch any copyrighted material – that you would usually have to pay to access – for free.
That applies to torrent websites, streaming Add-Ons on your Kodi box and more.
From September 1st 2016, you also need a TV Licence to watch or download any programmes on demand, as well as live on services like BBC iPlayer.