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Kodi boxes on trial

A UK legal case against video-streaming set-tops that can access subscription content for free, begins this week.

So-called “fully-loaded Kodi boxes” have gained popularity, but the legality of their sale is in question. North East  trader Brian Thompson is accused of selling equipment that “facilitated the circumvention” of copyright protection measures, reports the BBC. Thompson will not enter a plea but has told local media he intends to challenge the charges.

Kodi is free software designed to bring videos, music, games and photographs together in one easy-to-use application, it began as Xbox Media Centre (XBMC) that added a feature-rich media player to the original Xbox games console. The open-source project was developed by volunteers and can now be installed on a variety of devices including smartphones and computers.

But it can also be loaded on connected devices such as the Amazon Fire stick or Apple TV box, although it is not supported by those manufacturers. Some shops sell ready-to-use set-top boxes or television sticks preloaded with the Kodi 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. But the software can be modified with third-party add-ons that provide access to pirated copies of films and TV series, or provide free access to subscription television channels. Some traders are selling Kodi boxes preloaded with add-ons that can access pirated content. It is the sale of these “fully-loaded” boxes that is the subject of a legal case.

The developers behind Kodi have said they do not support “piracy add-ons” and have criticised those who advertise “fully-loaded” set-top boxes for sale. The group said it would maintain a “neutral stance on what users do with their own software”, but would battle those using the Kodi trademark to sell a “fully-loaded Kodi box”.

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