Kodi boxes are now a key target in the UK government's piracy crackdown


Kodi boxes and other devices which can be configured to enable the streaming of pirated content are to become key targets in a UK government intellectual property crime crackdown.

Revealing the extent to which so-called "fully-loaded" Kodi boxes are being used to circumvent copy protection laws, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) has stated that half of its investigations currently centre around streaming devices using third party piracy software or add-ons.

Set top boxes are of course legal, and the open-source Kodi software in its vanilla configuration is a harmless media centre. But, Kodi can be tweaked to facilitate the illegal streaming of premium content, ranging from current cinema releases to streams of cable TV channels.

'Cross-border infrastructure'

It's an international racket, according to the government's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) annual crime report.

"We are aware that set-top boxes, while perfectly legal in their own right, are frequently adapted by criminals to illegally receive TV channels protected by intellectual property rights," a spokesperson for the IPO told the BBC.

"The government is working with its partners in [the] 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."

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. Paired with this latest report, it's a landmark case which could have long term implications for how Kodi can be used and distributed in the UK.

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com. 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.