Kodi and other set-top box software which are streaming pirated videos has become a major issue for right-holders in the fight against piracy under UK government intellectual property crime.
Kodi is free software, built by volunteers, that is designed to bring videos, music, games and photographs together in one easy-to-use application. Some shops sell set-top boxes and TV sticks known as Kodi boxes, preloaded with the software.
Some fully-loaded boxes support software add-ons that can stream subscription movies, sport and TV channels over the internet for free which is illegal. The Federation against Copyright Theft (FACT) have revealed that around half of its investigations centre around streaming devices that use a third-party piracy-enabling software. Intellectual Property Office (IPO) terms the whole situation as an international racket which is spreading like an epidemic.
A spokesperson of IPO told the BBC:
“The government is working with its partners in industry and with police forces across the country to target criminals looking to profit from this activity. We are also working closely with our international partners to target the cross-border infrastructure that underpins illegal streaming.”
The vanilla configuration in Kodi, designed as a media centre is legal but it can be tweaked to facilitate the illegal streaming of premium content. While there are plenty of piracy-enabling add-ons available, they are not endorsed by the Kodi development team. The team generally takes a neutral stance on add-ons developed for the open-source software but have said they will fight anyone using the Kodi trademark.
Earlier this week, a Middlesborough retailer became the first in the UK to become embroiled in a legal challenge over the sale of Kodi boxes which facilitate the circumvention of copyright protection. The case is a landmark one which can change the use and distribution of Kodi in the UK.