If you have been following recent news articles about Kodi boxes then you could be forgiven for feeling a bit confused.
While you can find these useful boxes for sale in lots of places, you might also have seen that there have been news stories about people being arrested in connection with selling them. So how can you safely use one without any fear of breaking the law?
Kodi Boxes Are Legal
The first piece of good news is that the boxes themselves are completely legal to own and to use. A Kodi box is basically a type of media player that can play the likes of videos and music, so there is absolutely nothing to stop you from using one in the way that you probably already use other media players on your PC or mobile device.
If you have one at home then you have nothing to worry about at all. If you are thinking of buying one then you can go ahead and do so with completely confidence.
As we will see, the issues come with the plug-ins that allow users to get access to an incredible amount of TV programmes and movies for free. It is when this material is used without the permission of the owner that we will move on to look at now.
Selling Fully Loaded Boxes Is Illegal
The big issue in this area is with the sale of fully loaded boxes. In fact, in the UK we recently saw the first conviction of someone selling these boxes, so what is a loaded box?
This is basically a Kodi box that has had third party add-ons put on it. These plug-ins are designed to allow users to be able to access for free tons of films, sports events and other material that they should really be paying for.
According to the Federation Against Copyright Theft, selling a fully loaded TV set top device like this is a breach of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988.
At the time of writing, the current legal crackdown in the UK is aimed at the people who distribute and sell these loaded boxes, rather than those buying one. However, it has been pointed out that if you buy a box from someone who is being investigated then you could end up getting caught up in legal issues as well.
In December 2016, a dealer convicted of selling these boxes got sentenced to 4 years in prison, so the penalties are harsh.
Downloading Copyrighted Content for Free Is a Grey Area
Ok, so what happens if you have a Kodi box and use it stream movies and TV show that are copyrighted? Maybe you bought a fully loaded box before realising that it was illegal or downloaded the add-ons at home.
While we aren’t legal experts here, we have researched the matter to give you our take on the latest court rulings that could affect users of a Kodi box. Please see a professional legal opinion for more thorough information and advice.
The truth is that this is still a grey area as far as the courts are concerned. The Court of Justice of the European Union’s latest ruling (in 2014) on the matter suggests that watching copyrighted material on the internet for free isn’t strictly illegal.
This apparent loophole is due to the fact that the user only stores the information temporarily on their computer or other device rather than making a copy, which isn’t deemed as being a breach of copyright.
To add to the confusion, Derbyshire County Council trading standards offices recently confirmed that watching illegal streams didn’t break any laws. Yet. The Intellectual Property Office called it a “criminal offence” to do this.
The Federation Against Copyright Theft said watching illegal streams is “unlawful access”, although it didn’t say what law the viewer would be breaking.
We can expect there to be more controversy about this matter in recent times. Yet, at the current time that is the situation.
The person who sends out the stream is breaking the law but someone watching it at home probably isn’t currently breaking any European laws. Look out for more developments in the news, as this is an issue that isn’t going to go away or get resolved anytime soon, it seems.
Indeed, the Intellectual Property Office is in the midst of a consultation period to solve this issue as the time of writing.
What About Watching Football on a Kodi Box?
Do you plan on getting a Kodi box for watching live football matches that you would otherwise have to pay for? Again, you aren’t technically breaking any law by doing this according to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
However, the English Premier League has started to go after pirates in recent times and has targeted Kodi steams as part of this. Expect these streams to be blocked soon, meaning that watching EPL matches on a box is going to be extremely difficult to do.
The Moral Issues
To be fair, this matter appears to be one of those issues that comes down largely to the morality of the user. So where do you stand?
Well, to start with it is worth repeating that a Kodi box itself is perfectly legal to own and use, so there are no legal or moral issues with buying or using one.
However, if you use a fully loaded box or download the add-ons that let you access copyrighted materials then you are doing something that is in a legal grey area.
Watching these shows and movies for free undermines the hard work of the people who bring us subscription TV channels, as well as those viewers who pay for access month after month. It could also put money into the hands of criminals as well.
At the end of the day, how you use your Kodi is at the present time a matter for your own conscience. However, we would advise you to keep your eyes open for updates on the legal matters that are currently being debated around the question of online streaming.