As landmark Kodi court case comes to a close, Kodi Box trader avoids jail time
A 55-year-old shop owner has been spared time behind bars after pleading guilty to selling so-called Kodi Boxes.
Brian Thompson had originally denied the offences, setting up the prospect of a landmark court case relating to the sale of Kodi-powered devices.
The 55-year-old runs Cut Price Tomo’s TV store in Middlesbrough.
Kodi is a neutral media player which can be installed on a wide range of hardware, including desktop computers, servers, smartphones, HDMI streaming dongles.
The media player is capable of streaming content from the internet, a home network or local HDD storage.
But while Kodi itself is perfectly legal, it does allow users to install additional apps that can enable access to copyrighted material – uploaded, shared or streamed from other users across the globe – without permission from the rightsholders.
An immediate custodial sentence is not called for. As a warning to others in future, they may not be so lucky
Ready-made streaming set-top boxes, running on hardware from a variety of different manufacturers and preloaded with third-party add-ons that enable access to pirate content, are colloquially known as Kodi Boxes or ‘Fully Loaded’ Kodi Boxes.
At Teesside Crown Court, Brian Thompson was sentenced for one count of selling and one count of advertising devices “designed, produced or adapted for the purpose of enabling the circumvention of effective technological measures”.
Judge Peter Armstrong told him: “If anyone was under any illusion as to whether such devices as these, fully loaded Kodi boxes, were illegal or not, they can no longer be in any doubt.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that in all the circumstances, an immediate custodial sentence is not called for.
“As a warning to others in future, they may not be so lucky.”
The judge gave Thompson an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
The news comes as the team behind Kodi has stepped-up its rhetoric in an effort to discourage those tempted to use the software for illicit streaming purposes and distance itself from online piracy.
One user tweeted the official Kodi account, saying: “You’re an excellent pathway for pirate add-ons, keep up the good work” – only for the brand to respond “And you’re an excellent example of why contraception should be more widely considered.”
In another public tweet, Kodi suggested users who stream content illegally should “just b***** off and never come back”.
The open-source Kodi media player can be installed on a swathe of different hardware
FACT, which revealed that one million Kodi Boxes are currently in use across the UK in a report published earlier this summer, has praised the court words from Kodi.
Kieron Sharp, CEO of FACT, told Express.co.uk: “It is encouraging to see Kodi publicly announce they do not accept the misuse of their software and do not support or encourage the use of copyright infringing apps and add-ons.
“Consumers need to be aware that this is not a grey area and that if they are using a device that allows them to stream and watch TV, sports or films without a subscription from an official provider, such as Sky, BT or Virgin Media, then they are breaking the law.
“Our strong advice is to stay clear of any service or product that offers ways to dodge direct subscriptions.
“If you want to enjoy and watch premium pay-for channels, go directly to the official provider.”
Kodi has really upped the ante one Twitter, trying to distance itself from online piracy
Some have questioned why, if Kodi is so against online piracy, why they allow third-party add-ons capable of streaming paid-for content for free to be compatible with the media player.
But speaking in its defence, Kodi community and project manager, Nathan Betzen said: ”Even though pirate streaming appears to be illegal in Europe, we still stand by our neutral policy,
“We are developers and not the police, and we have no interest in acting as police for our own software.
“Kodi will remain as free and as open as it always has. Feel free to continue using Kodi however you want.
“To us Kodi is and always will be just a tool, like a hammer, and how you choose to use that tool is up to you.”
An example of the Kodi Boxes that are available to buy online
According to recent research from FACT report, the UK is one of the countries most affected by the increasing demand for Kodi boxes.
The FACT research was conducted in association with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, Intellectual Property Office, Police Scotland, and anti-piracy outfit Entura International.
Those supplying the Kodi Boxes range from individuals building boxes for a select few friends and family, to sprawling organised crime networks.
There has been a steady stream of reports of individuals who have been arrested for selling these devices, however, FACT claims these are just the “tip of the iceberg”.
- If you have information relating to the sale or provision of illegal streaming devices or services, call 101 or alternatively, you can give information anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.