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Police Arrest Five Men For Selling Kodi Boxes 'Fully Loaded' With Illegal Streaming Apps (bbc.com) 105

Five people have been arrested in early morning raids for selling "fully loaded Kodi boxes," which are set-top boxes modified to stream subscription football matches, television channels and films for free. The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) said it believed the suspects had made roughly $250,000 selling the devices online. BBC reports: Kodi is free software built by volunteers to bring videos, music, games and photographs together in one easy-to-use application. Some shops sell legal set-top boxes and TV sticks, often called Kodi boxes, preloaded with the software. The developers behind Kodi say their software does not contain any content of its own and is designed to play legally owned media or content "freely available" on the internet. However, the software can be modified with third-party add-ons that provide access to pirated copies of films and TV series, or free access to subscription television channels. The five arrests were made in Bolton, Bootle, Cheadle, Manchester and Rhyl.
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Police Arrest Five Men For Selling Kodi Boxes 'Fully Loaded' With Illegal Streaming Apps

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  • They're everywhere (Score:5, Informative)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @07:24PM (#53829465)

    Have they looked on ebay? craigslist? everywhere? 5 arrests is less than spit in the ocean. Those boxes are too easy to make or buy. A good android box loaded with all the "bad" addons can be had for 30 bucks. I got one that does 4K and h265 video for the same price as a raspberry pi 3.

    • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @07:43PM (#53829569) Journal
      Years ago, if you had an old box from a local cable company and you knew the right employee, you could have the box modified to receive all provided content for a nominal fee ($50 US). The cable company would search for pirated boxes during big pay-per-view venues, and zap them when they located an unregistered subscriber, rendering the pirated box useless.

      I've seen one legitimate cable subscriber, perhaps inadvertently, provide cable to multiple users at apartment complexes and trailer parks through clever splices and hidden cables. Despite the risk of being charged with theft of service, sheer economic forces drive the poorest among us to alternatives when paying for content is not an option.

      tl/dr: Cheating a bit to get what would otherwise be unavailable to you will not die suddenly because a handful of violators for profit got pinched.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        I'm not talking about users. I speak of sellers. They are everywhere you look.

        Cable companies are pretty lenient on pirates. My neighbor tapped into my cable, I found out when I bought an HDTV in 2010. When I got the new TV it had a lot of problems with tiling. I called the cable company and when they went to replace the outside cable they found it. They told him they removed it and that if he hooked back in they'd press charges. The cable dude said they never charged anyone unless they were a repeat

        • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @08:29PM (#53829825)

          This is how I know you're lying:

          I finally got DirecTV and it's been great ever since.

          • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

            What that got to do with anything? If you took the time to read through my posts you'd see where I said I bought a box to run H.265 content on that I had downloaded. I don't use it to pirate software as I only download certain things I want to see and I get those through piratebay or idope. A lot of that stuff is H.265 and it wouldn't run on the Raspberry Pi 3 I had Kodi running on. So you see, you've jumped to a wrong conclusion there Sherlock. DirecTV has a great picture but not everything is on the

            • Along with satellite in general, DirectTV is known for going out in bad weather.
              • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

                In 2016 I probably had a total of 30 minutes outage during particularly bad storms. Cable ran about the same and the pictures is way better than cable. If you're losing signal all the time something is wrong with the installation.

                • by Cederic ( 9623 )

                  My satellite feed drops a comparable amount to your own. But I live in the UK and don't get to enjoy the violent thunder storms that some parts of America are blessed with, so I can believe that this becomes more an issue where the weather it's quite so moderate.

                • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

                  DTV quality has always been crap. For any standard of video, theirs is downgraded in order to cram more channels onto a satellite feed.

                  Land line cable has MUCH more bandwidth to work with. Then there's getting it straight from the horses mouth (if you can).

      • Similar to this Kodi box, you could also buy a piggyback chip that you soldered to your cable box main board which would descramble every channel.
      • Are you talking about the analog days? Nothing was addressable back then. How would the cable company "zap" your box without damaging anything else connected? About the only way you could get caught is if an installer saw your illegal descrambler or actually had a tech out there with a spectrum analyzer looking for the dip in frequency for a channel they know you didn't pay for.

        I owned a descrambler for a while before they went digital and it was rendered useless. Then broadband took off along with Bittorre

        • I had identical concerns, since being out the $50 on a regular basis was akin to a subscription. Cable companies do "zap" cable boxes, but not with a power surge. AFAIK there are two ways to steal cable services (non-digital). I don't know how common each one is. The first way employs a simple electronic device pressed against the cable box. It causes the "switches" to open and allows all programming to come through. The "bullet" sent by the cable company about once a month resets all boxes to their regi
        • by ai4px ( 1244212 )

          As I recall it was about 1998. The boxes were indeed addressable. They would ping every known box with an instruction that told it to ignore the next firmware update. None of the "illegal" boxes were told. Then they published a broken firmware update. http://law.justia.com/cases/fe... [justia.com]

      • bullet busters blocked the trun off but most system had most of the main channels in the clear.

    • I'm looking for one, what model was it and how do you like it?
      • A friend of mine came over awhile back with an Amazon FireTV set up with kodi and the plugins.

        We were streaming stuff from all over the planet on his demo to me.

        Much of it seemed to be from eastern europe.

        My question to him was...and never got answered.

        What is the actual source of the broadcasts that come in from these 3rd party plugins....???

        Is it traceable to the end user?

        Is it coming in on something akin to bittorrent?

        I don't see money being generated at all from this, so, wondering the motivation

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          What is the actual source of the broadcasts that come in from these 3rd party plugins....???

          Is it traceable to the end user?

          Is it coming in on something akin to bittorrent?

          I don't see money being generated at all from this, so, wondering the motivation to put this "illegal" streaming out there?

          Usually it's a hijacked server providing the streaming source, and whether it's tracable or not depends on the server's settings. Perhaps the owner gets advice it's been jacked and simply wipes it. Or perhaps they tu

        • My question to him was...and never got answered.

          What is the actual source of the broadcasts that come in from these 3rd party plugins....???

          In a lot of cases on Exodus plugin, it looks like a lot of content is hosted on Google Video. It's streaming from sites like this, not P2P like a Torrent, so MPAA would need access to server logs to figure out who even streamed the content.

        • by jon3k ( 691256 )
          I don't believe the other reply is correct, it's not "hijacked servers". Popcorn Time [wikipedia.org] which used to be hugely popular (might still be) used bittorrent to distribute the files. In the past others have used file locker services (ie Mega). So you setup a filelocker service where you claim ignorance (or in the US maybe Safe Harbor protection under the DMCA) and that you don't know what's being stored. Then you setup a streaming service that stores it's files there. Seems like a pretty easy way to build a "
  • Or is this article really confusing?

    Are they selling pirated SOFTWARE or hardware here?

    And, what on earth does Kodi have to do with that? It is free (as in free to use) software that's even open source so unless Kodi is coming after them, what's the deal?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The common person on the street in the UK calls a "Kodi Box" a box that you can buy with pre-setup links and plugins to pirate streams.

      It isn't related to Kodi in the same way BitTorrent isn't exclusively used for pirate content, but in the common person the two are basically 100% correlated.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      It is confusing, or at least confusing if you're not British.
      It assumes you know what is commonly called a "Kodi" box, and it assumes that you know what country has the five listed towns/cities.

      • I'm still confused... So in the UK what's a Kodi box and what is illegal about selling/having them?

        Don't tell me it's some issue where folks are bypassing some tax/fee/license issue like rouge TV sets used to be in Britain where the government had roving trucks looking for the RF coming from old tube sets from residences who didn't pay the required fee for the right to watch TV...

        • In the UK selling the Kodi boxes preloaded with software to access pirate streams is illegal. It's a stupid rule, but basically if you sell something for the purpose of pirating then you are committing a crime.

          If you sold the same box with vanilla Kodi and none of the pirate steam plugins you're fine.

      • In the USA people sell rooted Amazon Firesticks for double or triple the price and claim you can get every pirated channel.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Kodi has a plugin feature, and these people were pre-installing the plugins that point to the illegal streams. Apparently in the UK that in and of itself is illegal. I'd assume on the same notion that "even possessng the tools to circumvent DRM" is illegal in the US.

      Kodi is the "boogieman" of MPAA/etc right now because their OSS is "too easy" to connect to illegal streams.... I've seen a couple articles here and there about the headaches that the people at Kodi have had to deal with over this... (found lin

      • by Falos ( 2905315 )

        >Kodi lowers the bar
        This is exactly what causes the burn flag. There's possibly some insightful remark to make about hipsters and the fear of things mainstream and popular. I'm not quite sure what, so whatever. But the cartels don't care about your obscure IRC XDCC distros, they especially don't give a flying fuck about all the holes our kind pokes in their "securities" in our armchair posts, about our proof of concepts and how we could theoretically do this or that - they don't care, as long as Joe Ever

      • by dddux ( 3656447 )
        Man, if Kodi is a problem, then all the browsers are the problem, too, because you can get to the illegal streaming content with it as easily, if not easier. Let's just ban every Internet app to satisfy the media content industry, eh? They should just leave Kodi alone. And as always, police, politicians, and the media content industry is showing us for the n-th time just how stupid and ignorant they are about the Internet and computer technology.
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      Kodi isn't the problem. It's the addons. There is a list of addons that is banned on Kodi's website. These addons provide access to prohibited content. Things like movies and tv shows and sports events that are pirated. Many ppl utilize these preloaded boxes to replace cable since it's all free. Kodi has nothing to do with any of this other than the addons utilize Kodi. It's simple enough.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Dig just one tiny step deeper and you can see what it is about "The open-source project was developed by volunteers and can now be installed on a variety of devices including smart phones and computers." and "They are also known as Android boxes, because many of the devices run Android as their primary operating system." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-37474595), I'll give you one guess as to who the shit bag is skulking in the background struggling with an extremely unpopular operating system, that g

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      And, what on earth does Kodi have to do with that? It is free (as in free to use) software that's even open source so unless Kodi is coming after them, what's the deal?

      It's boxes preloaded with Kodi and plugins to access pirated content.

      And you getting confused is the reason Kodi themselves are going after them [kodi.tv].

      Because it's casting a negative light on Kodi (the project) - the last thing they want is to be known as the "piracy player". Several developers are threatening to leave because of it, and the forum

  • Kodi is free software built by volunteers to bring videos, music, games and photographs together in one easy-to-use application.

    I mean, unless they were building and distributing these devices without offering the source code then it seems to me like there arent any real charges to be...oh...this is a witch hunt? well thats different. Lets leave it to the dunking tests to determine whether these heathens are true believers of copyright law.

  • by SumDog ( 466607 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @07:40PM (#53829553) Homepage Journal

    I hate the entire idea of software being illegal.

    I wonder if this would be illegal in the US. Code is speech, at least in the case of encryption software. Then again, the MPAA is a very powerful group. Look at their pissing content with Kim Dotcom. I have a feeling the entertainment industry would try, but (hopefully) not get very far.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      They're wasting their time going after these little fish. Stamping out the addon's content providers would be far more effective.

    • In the US, they have anointed the ISPs as the policemen of illegality. You could use this box and all associated software, but if it's streaming torrents or other pirated material, your ISP may turn you over to the MPAA or just shut off your connection.
      • Yes, but remember, it's all for the sake of the children, who can't speak out against piracy for themselves.

    • by ai4px ( 1244212 )

      I also hate the idea of software being illegal. What is illegal is the /use/ of software to get things you otherwise would pay for. I'll draw a parallel to guns. Guns (software) shouldn't be illegal. The use of guns / software to commit crime by a /person/ should be illegal. Alas it is easier to restrict access to the tangible thing than to circumvent human behavor.

  • by WolfgangVL ( 3494585 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @07:43PM (#53829567)

    Politicians paid to fight against technology they don't understand. Technically, (my understanding is) the plugins are not even illegal. It's the content they are pointing at that is technically enabling unauthorized viewing. IANAL, but I am interested in how this plays out. Could be an interesting court case, and potentially set some pretty crazy precedents. Are you watching closely?

    How is this different from a browser that can go to the very same links the plugins are pointing at and get you unauthorized entertainment? Browser was paid for one way or another. By this logic, every web-browser is just as guilty, and setting grandma up with a couple of bookmarks makes me a criminal.

    Kodi boxes are neat. Looks like they have finally hit critical mass.

    All this does is drive the tech back into moms basement where it started. Goo Yob. Changes nothing.

    • Unfortunately in the UK there is already precedent with people selling these Kodi boxes facing huge fines.

      This wouldn't be illegal in the US, or pretty much anywhere else at the moment.

    • If this action leads to less/no sellers wanting to sell to the UK, then it does achieve something: it means that the average idiot can't get to the illegal content. Sure, you and I can get a Raspberry Pi, install Kodi (or even buy a 'plain' Kodi box, I guess) and install a bajillion plugins from random sources on the Internet, but we're a distinct minority. If this course of action succeeds, it does reduce the number of 'customers' for illegal content by quite a degree.

      From another point of view, they *have

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      In the UK, it comes down to "intent"...
      If you are selling something, what are you intending it to be used for?

      If you are advertising your kodi box as being able to play pirated content, and providing it with the plugins preinstalled or instructions to do so then you are intending it to be used to view pirated content which is illegal.
      If you are just selling a box running a stock install of kodi and not mentioning that plugins offering illegal content are available, then your doing nothing wrong.

      Same if you'

      • Ah. Thank you.

        So what about the knife set that has been historically shown to be great at murdering people, but is sold "for educational purposes only" ?

    • by dddux ( 3656447 )
      That was my point, too, yes. And also every media app that supports streaming and plugins should be banned, too, then. Like VLC, for example. Media content industry would be the happiest if the Internet was "nicely" closed down for public access, and they could sell us everything as they please. Imagine that. Like 1984 ffs...
  • More like sales of $250,000, I bet they failed to factor in the cost of buying the hardware.
  • by gatfirls ( 1315141 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @08:07PM (#53829693)

    I think we should have police enforce patent law as well.

    Patent trolls would have a field day having SWAT kick down the doors at 'Moms House of Pies" because they used 'a method to photograph a freshly made pie and distribute the picture through signage to passing traffic'

  • Guess I'm naïve & behind the times (I don't find time to consume the legal free material I want to watch in the UK), and they may be everywhere, but I was suprised to see one at a family member's house, bought it 'from a guy'. They were genuinely surprised when I told them that it was illegal to use (yes, I didn't expect them to be that naïve either), and that it was torrenting (therefore they were sharing material), so they might expect a notice from their ISP at the least.

    It was a modded Ama

    • But like Napster and the like, they will eventually beat down the problem, either by intimidation, lobbying for new laws so they can find users, and a whole host of jack booted methods that will scoop up a few folks who didn't actually break the law...

      But by then, the whole problem will become a non-issue because advancing technology will make doing such stuff unnecessary and undesirable...By then the MPPA or whomever is pushing for this will make loud crying sounds about how their clients are losing money

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      If you look around they've got some that do 4K video and H.265 video in a little android box that costs 30 dollars or so. It's crazy. I bought one that I use for my own downloaded H.265 files that wouldn't play on my Raspberry Pi. I just use Kodi and stream the files over my network so I haven't fooled with the addons.

  • IANAL, but if you're advertising something where the main feature is to engage in illegal activities - you're gunna get nicked. Probably on the grounds of encouraging people to break the law.

    I think we all know that the software is free, and that it hasn't been "banned" in any sense.
    I think the above argument is the only thing that will hold up in court.

    Google doesn't encourage you to use it's browser to engage in illegal activity, any more than Wusthof encourages you to use their kitchen knives to stab peo

  • Knives (Score:3, Funny)

    by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @10:09PM (#53830311)
    It is surprising one can still buy a knife, given it can be used in a crime. Forks are dangerous too, and one can hit hard with a spoon.
    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      In the UK there are quite a few restrictions on knives, actually.

      https://www.gov.uk/buying-carr... [www.gov.uk]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is the UK.

      If you look under 25, you need to show ID to purchase a knife.

      I wish I was joking :(

    • The real bastard is the dish, who ran away with the spoon, leaving the poor fork in tines.
  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:22PM (#53830579)

    is going to get screwed eventually. Inducing law enforcement to go after people who sell readily available boxes with readily available software installed on them, is the strategy of an industry that is in denial and wilfully clueless.

  • by tommeke100 ( 755660 ) on Thursday February 09, 2017 @09:07AM (#53831915)
    Kodi is just media player software. Every TV now has a build-in media player and internet access. Okay, maybe not those 'illegal' streaming plug-ins, but they all have browsers where you can access the same content. I mean, do these built-in TV media-players really expect all those .mp4 and .mkv files they play to be "legally" obtained? They know damn well the origin of most of that content is shady at best, yet they enable it.
    I think there is more behind this story and it's probably more tax than copyright related. They are making hundreds of thousands in a parallel market without paying taxes. That's the real crime here.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    My non-computer literate nephew showed me Kodi on a Firestick, said just search youtube and you can find out how to do it. I did, it was easy.

    So easy my admin (very computer illiterate) came in one Monday and started talking about all the movies she'd watched over the weekend. When asked how she said "I put Kodi on my Firestick, it was easy. Youtube walked me through it step by step."

    My question is should heavy "Kodi" users have a router with VPN or add VPN to the Firestick? How paranoid should one be? Or d

  • I expect apart from the symbolic nature of the arrests they will have a pretty hard time actually getting any convictions.

    Unlike similar things in the past, where things were sold to people to illegally access cable/satellite networks without paying fees, the boxes actually don't do a whole lot but provide hardware. They didn't write the software, nor host the access to the "illegal" content, so I am not sure what they will be convicted with. There is probably a provision about "enabling" activity, but at a

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