Five people who are accused of selling “fully loaded Kodi Boxes” that allow users to stream premium subscription sporting events, sports channels, television channels and movies have been arrested following a series of raids after the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) made the devices their “top priority”.
According to FACT, the five sellers that were raided in the early hours of this morning had made around £250,000 selling the modified set-top box devices online.
The modifed set-top devices make use of a free software named Kodi, which is created by volunteers with the focus of bringing videos, music, games and photographs together into one application.
The developers behind the creation of the free to use app Kodi have said that their software does not infringe on any breach of copyright as it does not contain any content of its own and that the application is designed to be used legally by those that choose to use it with “freely available” content.
The comments by the developers of Kodi seem to be correct, however there are a series of add-ons and apps that allow for the addition of pirated content to be accessed by the users, who access streams of live television coverage and movies that have been recorded or downloaded illegally.
The arrests that were made this morning were spread across the UK, with an arrest being made in Bolton, Bootle, Cheadle, Manchester and Rhyl.
The accused parties have since been released on bail following questioning pending further investigation.
Speaking about the raids, Kieron Sharp, director general of FACT, said that the arrests “should send out a clear warning to anyone involved in the sale and distribution of illegal set-top boxes”.
“Set-top boxes loaded with apps and add-ons allowing access to copyright infringing material are very much illegal and anyone involved in selling these boxes should not be surprised to receive a knock on the door”.
When asked whether FACT were acting for the interest of any third party companies, they revealed that their “day of action” was conducted on behalf of Premier League subscription providers BT, Sky and Virgin Media.
With the popularity of set-top devices and TV viewing USB sticks from popular retailer Amazon continuing to raise, questions are being asked about whether their sale is legal, something that is still being tested in court following a previous case that saw on trader from Middlesbrough contesting a case involving the sale of them.
A spokesperson for the Kodi app stated that although they did not support the use of their software in this manner, they were taking a “neutral stance on what users do with their own software” but stood behind their creation of the app.
The collective group of developers did say that they would be willing to battle any vendor that was using the Kodi trademark to sell “fully loaded” devices.