back to article Biggest Kodi sweep: Brit cops nab five, bag some dodgy sticks

UK copyright cops made their biggest sweep yet in the crackdown on preloaded Kodi TV streaming kit. Five people were arrested today in Rhyl in Wales, and Bootle, Bolton, Manchester and Cheadle in England. Police did not release names. The five were quizzed by investigators and have all been released on bail. It is believed the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too late.

    The genie is out of the bottle and now the Streisand effect will take hold.

    It's now trivial to load the "illegal" providers repositories and as soon as they take one down, another will spring right back up.

    UK Turks is a belter with a load of old generally unobtainable elsewhere stuff...

    Cat vs mouse. Again...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Too late.

      Hilarious. Search for it on Google and you get a bullet point list of how to install in the search results.

      Will Google get their wrists slapped?

      1. frank ly

        Re: Too late.

        It took me 1 minute to install Kodi on Linux and then three minutes to install the provider repo you mentioned, after finding his instructions via a Google search. (Most of that three minutes was spent getting lost in the Kodi menu heirarchy.) I've been watching Top Cat episodes. My tastes are simple and I'm big on nostalgia.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too late.

          "Hey, Top Cat. How's it going?"

          "Officer Dibble! So glad you could join us today. Did I mention how sharp your uniform looks today? It does. It does! Say, do you pay for old-timey subscription video services? Well, pay no more, my good man. Choo-Choo, get my friend a Kodi USB stick! Hurry, hurry! We musn't keep the man waiting."

          "Wow, thanks, TC!"

  2. TwistUrCapBack

    Most of these "fully loaded" boxes/sticks are fully loaded with shite anyway.

    Anyone with half a brain can easilly install kodi and exodus/uk turks which is all you need really

    Do the police/FACT really think they will make a dent in the number of people starting to use these devices ?

    I personally think that only Sky etc dropping their prices down to around 10% of what they are now will do that.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Sky-high prices?

      "I personally think that only Sky etc dropping their prices down to around 10% of what they are now will do that.

      That would mean they'd have to stop paying silly money for sports rights etc. Won't someone think of the starving Premier League footballers children?

      Of course, some of us wouldn't watch Sky if it was the only provider left, and access was given away free with a copy of the soaraway Sun.

      1. Joe Montana

        Re: Sky-high prices?

        ""I personally think that only Sky etc dropping their prices down to around 10% of what they are now will do that.

        That would mean they'd have to stop paying silly money for sports rights etc. Won't someone think of the starving Premier League footballers children?"

        Why would it? If they reduced their prices to 10% of what they are now, they are likely to see a significant uptake in customers followed by an increase in advertising revenue due to the extra eyeballs.

        I also dislike being forced to use the hardware they supply, with non subscription tv i can choose from thousands of different tv sets or set top boxes... The sky ones are large, ugly and lacking various features i find useful.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sky-high prices?

          "advertising"

          Advertising wouldn't be so annoying if it wasn't all repeats.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here we go again

    What will be achieved. I have no clue and under what rules/laws?

    FFS, its a software, freely distributed abd downloadable.

    Except that these guys are offering in a more usable way for the technophobes.

  4. Ogi

    This concerns me....

    Not so much because I want to watch subscription TV, but the sheer grey area that this is.

    I mean:

    * Kodi is legal

    * The plugins are legal

    * Streaming TV off the internet is legal (as evidenced with Sky Vs that pub that streamed football matches from another EU country to avoid Sky subscription fees, where the pub won AFAIK)

    * Selling a computer with Kodi installed is legal

    However selling a machine with kodi + plugins + hardware becomes illegal... why? Maybe I am missing something here (I haven't been following that closely) but it sounds like they have criminalised not an item, or a piece of software, but a particular software configuration, which just seems mental.

    Yet I keep hearing about people being raided and some getting quite harsh prison sentences due to selling what is basically a computer that can stream video.

    I also dread to think what kind of precedent this sets. If a particular configuration of software can be criminalised, in future you can be raided for selling a computer that has I2P or Tor installed and configured? Or for one that maybe uses an unapproved configuration for the OS?

    Future dystopian scenario of a configuration that disables a government mandated backdoor by default? Reminds me of China and their Linux distro attempts, which is not a path I would like this country to go down on.

    1. AegisPrime

      Re: This concerns me....

      It all comes down to the intended use of the device I think - these devices are purposely assembled to facilitate copyright infringement. If they'd left out the Kodi plugins then they'd be completely legal but selling an out-of-the-box piracy solution isn't going to end well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This concerns me....

        "selling an out-of-the-box piracy solution isn't going to end well." Like Amstrad dual tape getto blasters you mean?

        Sir Alan Sugar seems to be going okay, perhaps FACT are going to catch up with him when he least expects it?

        1. AegisPrime

          Re: This concerns me....

          I seem to recall there was extensive debate over whether to ban dual tape decks for just that reason ('home taping is killing music' ring a bell?) - can't remember what the resolution was off-hand but it also applied to writable media (CDs/DVDs) - some countries even levy a tax on writable media assuming it'll be used for piracy.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This concerns me....

            "can't remember what the resolution was"

            I can. I ran out and purchased one. Still have it. A Kenwood dual deck cassette player with auto-auto, so you could record on deck 1, two sides, then it auto-starts deck 2 when the cassette runs dry in deck 1. You can have it for a fiver! ;) Same thing with the very marginal, yet highly sought after Two Live Crew CD. And some Dead Kennedys phonograph records one that included a very naughty poster with some kind of penis motif on it. Basically, if "The Man" bans it, the people want it, even if we really don't. :P Except the Kenwood and DKs.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This concerns me....

            " seem to recall there was extensive debate...." yes debate not arrests.

            The difference was that Alan Sugar was allowed/could afford a voice and challenged the finger pointers not to mention that Sir Alan also knew a lot of powerful people.

            This is why FACT is targetting kodi box resellers rather than ebay or amazon or google, the resellers are easy targets because they cannot afford good representation and no one is interested in joe bloggs being send down unless they know the right people to get justice.

            The reality is that KODI is not illegal however FACT are attempting, yet again, to say that something is a crime when it is not. The Fraud sentence was not related to kodi any more than it was related to the internet or computers/software.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: This concerns me....

      However selling a machine with kodi + plugins + hardware becomes illegal... why?

      Aiding and abetting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This concerns me....

        @Dan 55

        Re: Aiding and abetting

        Presumably the police will now start prosecuting bankers, politicians and other police under this law then?

        /sarcasm off.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This concerns me....

      "However selling a machine with kodi + plugins + hardware becomes illegal... why?"

      Simply because the police say it is and there in lies a problem.

      The police are not qualified nor competent to make legal decisions beyond defined criminal acts.

      However if some pressure group gets support from the people the police are required to listen to then you get arrests without legal grounds.

      That justice in the UK is now beyond the price range of the average citizen is why everyone involved feels safe in this action. The idea is that if enough people are arrested and charged with something then joe public will believe that it is illegal, when clearly no crime has been commited.

      Sadly without anyone in Government actually working for the people who put them in office and pay their wages then you are going to get this sort of abuse from minories with disproportional representation.

      Effectively the police and Government are working for the movie distributors and we are paying for it.

      The movie distributors make no content and are annoyed when people obtain the content via a different distributor without paying them. That they truely believe that they have a right to tax us for everything we are allowed to watch is clearly supported by our government representatives who are the ones telling the police to make groundless arrests

    4. Joe Montana

      Re: This concerns me....

      Well it like many things in the law comes down to "intent"...

      If you sell a device for the purpose of doing something illegal then selling the device becomes illegal too. If you sell a device which is intended for a legal purpose and the buyer chooses to use it for an illegal purpose then that's on them and not the seller.

      Take for example kitchen knives, sold for the purpose of preparing food, but perfectly capable of killing someone if used for that purpose.

    5. Youngone

      Re: This concerns me....

      All good questions from Ogi, none of which I have a sensible answer for.

      The question that I have is: Why is Copyright Infringement a criminal matter at all? It would seem to me to be the perfect case of a civil matter, and the various copyright holders should have to sue those they deem to be infringing.

      Instead we see that the Police have a dedicated copyright enforcement team which seems to me to be a massive subsidy to copyright holders, who presumably have the money to pay for their own legal action.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This concerns me....

        So if I nick cars off manufacturers do the same rules apply - they're all just copies of a prototype? Is that just a civil matter as well??

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This concerns me....

          "So if I nick cars off manufacturers do the same rules apply" of course not, cars are a physical object, stealing a car removes it from the use of the original owner.

          Now if you could use a startrek style replicator to duplicate a car then that too would not be a crime under the current laws.

          If you consider just how much of one manufactors car is the same as another's i.e engine, 4 wheels seats gears etc then you can understand why people are bored with rehashed content in the media industry where I would say around 90% of the offerings are the same crap everyone has seen/heard before.

          However with your own analogy, without a startrek style replicator the car manufactorers do at least have to make each car they sell rather than just make one and charge everyone for just looking at it.

          Put your car near a mirror and pay double because they own the reflection too, you can only drive your car in the region in which you purchased it and driving abroad means you must buy a new car.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This concerns me....

        "Why is Copyright Infringement a criminal matter at all? It would seem to me to be the perfect case of a civil matter, and the various copyright holders should have to sue those they deem to be infringing."

        You've answered your own question; copyright infringement has been made a criminal offence so that cost of prosecution is paid for by taxpayers and not the copyright holders.

    6. Fullbeem

      Re: This concerns me....

      She won but as long as the broadcast has no pre-recorded footage or any Premier League titles etc can she feel safe. My understanding anyway, and i might be wrong.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17150054

  5. frank ly

    Ebay seems to be full of them

    Is it a good time to buy one?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ebay seems to be full of them

      Yes can you provide links please? Cheaper the better.

      I would like to try.

      Hope The Register is not taken down by the same police for providing some links to such cheap hardware!

      1. frank ly

        @AC Re: Ebay seems to be full of them

        You go to ebay.co.uk, type 'Kodi' in the search box and then sort the results for lowest price first. It's amazing what computers can do nowadays.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC Ebay seems to be full of them

          This is a good KODI box. WIFI / Bluetooth / Ethernet / HDMI / 2x USB / £30-£35

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01IDLV9UC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

          - I bought 3 for home (1 for TV / 1 with KODI removed to act as an Android development environment / 1 attached to an old LCD monitor as a cheap Web Terminal)

      2. King Jack

        Re: Ebay seems to be full of them

        Just go to eBay and type in 'android tv box' the cheaper is not the better. The top of the range should be around £40 any more and you are being ripped off. Prices fall as ram size and android version fall.

    2. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Ebay seems to be full of them

      Seeing as we don't know which of the many sellers have still got a shop front, but are in the process of being convicted you might want to tread carefully.

      Perhaps widening your search to encompass sellers from countries that aren't busy sucking Satan's "Bill Hick". I don't know. North Korea perhaps, I don't think they have Sky there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ebay seems to be full of them

        Rol@

        I would suggest that 'no one' at the moment purchases anything with 'Kodi + "extra s/w" from ebay or similar.

        The people being currently charged are likely to point to other sellers as part of their defense, all the people named will be visited by the Police and names of Customers likely will be obtained etc

        The safest way is to obtain your own hardware (identical to the stuff being sold by these people) and install the Kodi software + extra repository lists yourself.

        Kodi is 100% legal and the lists can be obtained still via a quick google search.

        Thereafter all the risks are yours!!! :)

        As usual getting too greedy/blatant has caused the MPAA etc to get upset and start throwing their money/weight around.

        Eventually, some of the sites behind these repositories will disappear and/or 'move' to a new address.

        A number of the 'less techie' people will find that the 'magic' Kodi access disappears !!! :) :)

        [Until the new instructions appear on the 'intraweb' !!! :) :)]

  6. Rol Silver badge

    just had a search on Google

    And Google offers a step by step guide on how to install the add-ons that have so upset the authorities.

    Go figure.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can someone explain to a yank what this crackdown is all about?

    It sounds like a combination of direct access to a bittorrent repository, plus they hacked Sky's streaming service so you can watch their stuff for free?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can someone explain to a yank what this crackdown is all about?

      kodi or xbmc (originally xbox media center) client allows streaming from various sources, it is not bittorrent and the only local copy is content segments in cache nor is client distributing anything.

      Kodi provide a set of legal streaming services via plugins however there are other plugin providers who provide access to the content directly from streaming host sites without the usual advertisements and malware associated with the web front ends offered across the net. Think primewire etc.

      The lower cost and availiblity of ARM based single board computers such as the rasperry pi have given rise to a rash of small businesses importing chinease media players running kodi which they then install the dodgy plugins to for instant access to copied content.

      Ebay, Amazon etc are also selling these same kodi boxes but since they have more than enough money to legally defend themselves FACT has targetted the small businesses instead in an attempt to suggest to the public that kodi or the freely availible plugins are in someway promoting "piracy".

      FACT and the content distributors they represent hold monopolies on the distribution rights within the region and so when the content is accessed without them getting a return on their execlusivity contract then they kick up. This is very similar to the reason that the catalog on netflix in the US and then connecting outside the US has a much smaller catalog. Basically the local distributors have purchased a monopoly on who is allowed to show particular content.

      That this purchased exclusivity is not dealt with like other monopolies that stiffle competition shows just how powerful these distributors are locally.

      If the kodi box was sold with the suggestion that the "dodgy" content legitimately distributed to the UK then I can see that there would a case for fraud however it would be the seller's fraud of pretending that view "pirated" content was his and part of the sale and has nothign to do with kodi or the streaming sources.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When's the trial?

    I eagerly await the outcome of this trial and try and find how much the MPAA,RIAA, SKY amongst others have leaned on the cops to carry our this operation.

    More importantly, who wins and what defence is provided/upheld.

    Will certainly set a precedent. We are in for some interesting times.

  9. Dominion

    If it's all about intent then everyone who is connected to the internet could be deemed to have intent. Opportunity to download Kodi, opportunity to download plugins, opportunity to download content.

    1. TwistUrCapBack

      Opportunity != Intent

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Top tip from FACT

    I have kodi installed on a few raspberry pi dotted around the house. Didn't know about the mentioned plug in. Googled it, and installation info is readily available and looks a doddle. I'll give it a go tonight. Many thanks to FACT and the City Plod for the tip.

    1. Cris E

      Re: Top tip from FACT

      Kodi + Exodus = happiness.

      But just to be safe, folks in the USA do recommend using a VPN so that your tracks back to the various content repositories are hidden in the event that laws or enforcement priorities change.

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