Copyright vigilantes have a love hate relationship with Kodi software that enables pirates to download free movies and TV from the internet.
Kodi is the software that turns a smart device such as a phone, tablet or laptop into a fully-fledged media centre.
Kodi is free, open-source software that is legal to own and use, but easy to turn into a pirate download centre.
All that is needed is to load Kodi software to an appropriate device and then load the device with easy to find add-ons that let users automatically scour the internet for the latest movies and TV to download for free.
For Kodi user who can’t adapt their boxes for free TV, traders have sold boxes ‘fully loaded’ with Kodi and the illegal add-ons for years.
Plug pulled online
They encourage users to set up a VPN or virtual private network that masks their IP address – the computer’s unique code online – so their illegal activities cannot be traced.
However, with teams of copyright detectives tracking the crooks, it seems obtaining lists of VPN accounts would be a sensible way to unmask the pirates.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) wants police and trading standards officers to target the traders selling Kodi boxes.
eBay, Amazon and other big online market places have already pulled the plug on the devices.
“Unscrupulous vendors selling general-purpose devices preloaded with software whose function is to infringe content or circumvent technological protection measures are an appropriate target for enforcement activities,” says the CCIA.
“These enforcement activities should focus on the infringers themselves, however, not a general-purpose technology, such as an operating system for set-top boxes, which may be used in both lawful and unlawful ways.
“The offering of devices modified to infringe, or with the clear aim of intentionally inducing infringement, may well violate local copyright laws, where the copyright law of the jurisdiction in question prohibits technology protection circumvention or inducement.”
One trader in Middlesbrough has admitted selling pre-loaded Kodi boxes and was jailed for 18 months, suspended for two years.
The court heard his customers had avoided paying around £200,000 in Sky streaming subscription fees by accessing copyright material from the devices he sold.