Media players configured for piracy “challenge recent progress” against illegal streaming, a new report says.
The popularity of such devices, which have become widely known as “fully loaded Kodi boxes”, has surged recently.
Though , they’re often pre-loaded with the open-source software and a number of third-party add-ons that enable users to illegally access copyrighted content, like TV shows, films and sports fixtures.
According to new research from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), such media players are proving tricky for authorities to deal with.
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“Streaming giants such as Netflix and Spotify have helped keep online infringement in check with innovative new streaming models, however new threats are beginning to challenge recent progress,” it says.
The report adds: “Illicitly adapted set top boxes, which allow users to illegally stream premium TV content such as blockbuster movies, threaten to undermine recent progress. 13% of online infringers are using streaming boxes that can be easily adapted to stream illicit content.”
It singles out Netflix and Spotify for praise, saying that they’re managing to keep infringement levels “stable” by increasing the popularity of legal streaming.
“It’s great that legal streaming sites continue to be a hugely popular choice for consumers. The success and popularity of these platforms show the importance of evolution and innovation in the entertainment industry,” said Ros Lynch, copyright and IP enforcement director at the IPO.
“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.”
The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) agrees that new technologies are opening up fresh avenues for criminals, but says it’s keeping up with the pace of change.
“In the modern world technology is advancing at rapid rates. However, this innovation is often exploited by criminals as they see new opportunities to financially gain from others’ hard work,” Kieron Sharp, the CEO of FACT, told the Independent.
“This is definitely the case in the world of intellectual property and in particular with the recent issues surrounding illicit streaming devices. FACT is always at the forefront of technological developments and, together with industry, the police and the Government, we are leading the way in tackling piracy, particularly illegal streaming.
“Where criminals benefit financially, it provides us with greater opportunities to work with law enforcement to disrupt their businesses and for criminal funds to be confiscated and go back to the public purse.”
Mr Sharp recently told us that FACT is also working with the Kodi team, but admitted that it can be difficult to work out who is using the software for legal purposes and who is using it for illegal purposes, as people can find and install the illegal add-ons themselves.