Whilst streaming services like Now TV, Netflix, Amazon Fire TV Spotify etc, provide easy and affordable access to a multitude of legal content direct to your home. The UK government is waging a war against what it calls “illicit streaming devices”. Streaming boxes such as Raspberry Pi, Amazon Fire Stick or Android-powered streamers are in themselves legal, they become “illicit” the moment they are used to stream TV shows, movies, and subscription sports channels without a required subscription. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has issued guidelines that advise the streaming of copyrighted material via an Android TV steamer enabled with Kodi is illegal and that any offending add-ons or software should immediately be removed. The IPO points out that Kodi is not to blame for this rise in domestic piracy but third parties specifically adapting Kodi to create illicit streaming devices are assisting users in breaking the law.
How do you know if the device under your TV is illicit or not? If you are watching television programmes, films or sporting events where you would normally be paying to view, and you have not paid, you are likely to be using an illicit streaming device or app and are in breach of copyright, which could carry a hefty fine or possibly imprisonment.
Having chosen to ignore the advice from the IPO are there other risks with the use of such devices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can my use be monitored by my service provider?
Yes – Third-party torrent addons like Quasar rely on P2P protocol. This allows users to stream movies and TV shows from torrent files. P2P relies on adding the public IP addresses of people who are seeding or peering a certain torrent file, which is easy for an ISP to track. One way around this is to implement a VPN for all your illicit internet activities.
Is it illegal to stream copyrighted material?
Yes – In April 2017, the European Court of Justice, ruled that “copyright-protected work obtained by streaming from a website belonging to a third party offering that work without the consent of the copyright holder” does not benefit from an exemption of the laws governing the distribution of copyright content. In other words, streaming pirated content using illicit addons is now just as illegal as downloading copyrighted material. Again, VPN is crucial if you want to watch ‘pirated’ streams on Kodi without getting on the wrong side of the law.
Are streaming boxes/apps secure?
Not guaranteed – Back in March 2017, news broke that Kodi 17 Krypton had a major security flaw. By using malicious subtitles provided by third-party repositories, a hacker could get full control of the device you have installed the Kodi app on. This security issue was addressed by releasing the Kodi 17.3. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that there are no other security bugs present. On top of all that, many Kodi users are still using Kodi 17.1 or even Kodi 16.1 Jarvis, unaware of the potential risks involved. So keeping it updated with the latest patch/version is paramount. For the tech savvy, not so much of an issue, but for the less technically competent it may get overlooked.
Unofficial Kodi addons give you the ability to watch literally thousands of movies and TV series free of charge online. However, whenever you’re using these addons, you are putting your trust in the hands of the developers of these addons and you cannot guarantee against the presence of malicious code.