A new report by Sandvine Broadband Networks revealed that fully loaded Kodi boxes are being used in North American households to watch pirated content. The report is first of its kind to delve deep into statistics regarding the use of pre-loaded Kodi boxes.
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The detailed report by Sandvine reveals the extent of Kodi’s adoption in North American households. The broadband network provider observed that “Streaming content via the unofficial Add-ons examined by Sandvine do not have the proper legal rights from the content owner (“unlicensed content”) and do not comply with applicable laws“.
- North American households having at least one device with an active Kodi installation – 8.8%
- Households with Kodi devices having unofficial Add-ons to access unlicensed content – 68.6%
- Households in North America having a Kodi device to access unlicensed files & streams – 6%
The Debate Around Kodi’s Legality
The report by Sandvine addresses the issue of Kodi’s legality by stating that “Kodi simply serves as a front end; If Kodi disappeared tomorrow, then all of the content made available through the unofficial Add-ons would quickly be made be accessible via a web browser, or by another media player, and the parties that are benefitting today (except possibly the “fully loaded” Kodi box sellers), would continue to profit”.
It implies that Kodi is just a software and that to sell devices pre-installed with Kodi is not illegal. However, making the box pre-loaded with unofficial pre-configured add-ons that let users watch copyrighted content without the proper legal rights from the content owner (“unlicensed content”) is illegal. That’s why two British men were arrested in Bangkok for selling access to illegally streamed football broadcasts through pre-loaded Kodi boxes.
Similarly, Amazon and eBay also launched a crackdown on pre-loaded Kodi boxes which give users the means to get access to copyrighted content illegally. The online-auction website removed listings that did not comply with the law. “Anyone found to be knowingly selling items that don’t comply with the law will be investigated and could face account restrictions or suspension“, says a representative of eBay while talking to The Sun.
We spoke to the CBC about our new report on the "fully-loaded" Kodi ecosystem.
— Sandvine (@Sandvine) May 4, 2017
— Advanced Television (@advancedtv) May 4, 2017
It isn’t a surprise as an EU court ruled that “it’s illegal to sell streaming boxes with piracy add-ons”.
Organizations Leading the Offensive Against Kodi
Premier League, Amazon, eBay, and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has come up with a sustained campaign that targets Kodi sellers of premium content without a license. There have been multiple arrests in UK and Thailand. In fact, The Premier League obtained a court order “to help tackle rights-infringing video streams of football matches via so-called Kodi set-top boxes”, writes BBC.
The Sandvine report on the Kodi ecosystem concludes that Kodi in itself is not the root of unlicensed content streaming. The practice will continue if Kodi was even banned. The same content can be made accessible via a web browser add-on. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between the legal and illegal aspects of Kodi’s use.
It becomes illegal when Kodi-boxes are pre-loaded with add-ons that let a user watch or download licensed content without paying for the license or subscription.
It will gradually become difficult for pre-loaded Kodi box sellers as courts, regulators, and broadband companies in EU, Canada, and the US have already started punitive actions against the offenders. XBMC Foundation (the maker of Kodi software) also started issuing takedown notices against sellers who use the Kodi name to sell set-top boxes and services. The number of illegal users may increase in the coming years and so will the arrests and legal actions against the offenders.