Dodgy Kodi add-ons and stream ripping services hampering fight against piracy

The rise of "illicitly adapted set top boxes" and stream-ripping software threatens to undo the decline in use of illegal piracy-enabling services, a new UK government report claims.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO), has published new findings that reveal a substantial 15% of UK internet users, roughly 7 million people, are still streaming or downloading films, music and other media that infringes on copyright.

This is despite the likes of Netflix and Spotify "keeping infringement levels stable" through the increased adoption of their legal alternatives, according to the IPO. 

Tech progress aiding the pirates

While the embattled Kodi software (the open-source nature of which is exploited by pirates to allow it stream illegal materials) is not explicitly mentioned in the report, third-party add ons that allow for illegal streams through the software have surely contributed to the fact "13% of online infringers are using streaming boxes that can be easily adapted to stream illicit content," as stated in the report.

It's the stats around stream-ripping services that are perhaps more surprising then – services which allows users to pull and locally save streamed content  (where they can be enjoyed ad-free and don't contribute to play counts) from the likes of YouTube  jumped up in use a massive 141.3% between 2014 and 2016.

"It’s great that legal streaming sites continue to be a hugely popular choice for consumers," said Ros Lynch, Copyright and IP Enforcement Director at the IPO.

"The success and popularity of these platforms show the importance of evolution and innovation in the entertainment industry.

"Ironically it is innovation that also benefits those looking to undermine IP rights and benefit financially from copyright infringement. There has never been more choice or flexibility for consumers of TV and music, however illicit streaming devices and stream-ripping are threatening this progress.

"Content creators deserve to be paid for their work – it is not a grey area. This government takes IP infringement extremely seriously and we are working with our industry partners and law enforcement to tackle this emerging threat."

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.