British crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers has launched a new campaign targeting the manufacturers and resellers of Kodi-boxes.
Kodi is free software that can play nearly any type of media file. Its TV-friendly interface and expandability makes it an ideal choice for streaming music and videos on a home network.
As Crimestoppers explains, devices running Kodi “are perfectly legal when used to access content that has been legitimately paid for or that is legally available for free.”
“Free” Content is Pirated Content
The problem comes when people use Kodi to commit piracy by downloading or streaming unlicensed content. “If other people pay for the content you are watching for free,” Crimestoppers explains, “then you are watching illegally.”
Further complicating matters, the network of people and companies who post illegal content to the web may be tied to organized crime. “With clear links to organised crime where does your money actually go?” asks Chief Constable Giles York, the UK’s top cop for content piracy.
Safety and Security Risks
Crimestoppers highlighted the risks Kodi-powered set-top boxes pose to consumers. “When subscribing to content you could be giving real criminals your personal information.”
The Crimestoppers campaign also highlighted recent studies that found piracy-oriented set-top-boxes often fail UK and EU safety tests. Although fodder for sensational headlines, sub-standard power supplies do create a fire risk in homes.
Crimestoppers is not asking people to rat out their neighbors. The campaign’s focus is on the makers and dealers who “load-up, advertise, market, or sell dodgy streaming devices.” A dedicated anti-piracy website and call center (0800 555 111) lets Brits report the enablers of content piracy.
Chris Casper is a former tech industry product manager who escaped from California for New Mexico. Now he writes about science and tech while searching for the perfect green chile sauce.