The government is calling on so-called “Kodi box” users to remove any addons that let them stream films, TV shows and live sports for free.
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has published a guide to illicit streaming devices, which echoes recent warnings from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and Electrical Safety First.
The guide claims that the devices can be dangerous, and that they have the potential to expose users to “inappropriate content”.
Kodi boxes tend to be cheap, unbranded media players that have had legal Kodi software and illegal addons pre-loaded onto them.
The IPO wants members of the public to report the people who are selling them, which it describes as “organised criminals”, to Crimestoppers.
“These devices often lack parental controls. Using them could expose children or young people to explicit or age inappropriate content,” the guide says.
“Another important reason for consumers to avoid purchasing these streaming devices is from an electrical safety point of view. Where devices and their power cables have been tested, some have failed EU safety standards and have the potential to present a real danger to the public, causing a fire in your home or premises.”
Last week, FACT and Electrical Safety First urged Kodi box users to unplug the devices immediately, as they found that several popular models don’t comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, and could pose serious safety risks.
The IPO’s advice, however, is slightly different.
Despite saying that people should not buy Kodi boxes and also warning about the potential safety risks associated with them, the guide appears to suggest that anyone who already owns a Kodi box would be fine to continue using it after removing its addons.
“These devices can be used legally by removing the software,” it says. “If you are unsure get advice to help you use the device legally.”
Removing piracy-configured addons from a Kodi box would have no effect on its build quality and, if the fire hazard warnings are genuine, it would be highly inadvisable to continue using a potentially unsafe Kodi box in any circumstance.
You can, however, access Kodi safely by buying a legitimate media player and installing the software yourself, though the process is a little fiddly.
“The creative industries in the UK is a very important sector,” the guide adds. “It provides employment for more than 1.9 million people and contributes £84.1 billion to our economy.
“Using illicit streaming devices is illegal. If you are not paying for this content you are depriving industry of the revenue it needs to fund the next generation of TV programmes, films and sporting events we all enjoy.”