A CHANGE to UK law could hand copyright trolls the opportunity to threaten online users – including those who stream content using Kodi software, and torrent websites – with prison sentences of up to 10 years.
The Government’s Digital Economy Bill could hand copyright trolls the opportunity to threaten online users with prison sentences of up to 10 years.
According to a new campaign page by the Open Rights Group – a digital campaigning organisation that aims to protect the rights to privacy and free speech online – the Bill criminalises minor copyright infringement.
Open Rights Group want to change the Digital Economy Bill so that it is more specific.
The Government wants to use the Bill to increase penalties for criminals running websites that allow people to download copyright-protected material.
However the proposed legislation will criminalise any infringement where money has not been paid for copyrighted content, or where it can be proven that there is a “risk of loss”.
That could include people who fileshare, or send copyrighted material as a GIF.
Copyright trolls are often legal firms that send out legal warning letters to people suspected of unauthorised downloading of copyright works.
These firms often mail-out the warnings in a scattershot approach, often sending the warnings to people who have never downloaded this type of material.
The trolls threaten court action unless the individual pays a large sum of money.
If the Digital Economy Bill passes unchanged, the Open Rights Group claims, these trolls will be able to send out warning letters threatening users with 10 years imprisonment.
That is surely going to increase their chance of success when targeting people with these mass emails.
The Kodi media player lets you stream from local, or networked storage, as well as online sources
For those who do not know, Kodi is an open-source media player that’s available to install on a range of devices.
The software was previously known as XBMC, or Xbox Media Centre, since that was the only hardware is was designed to run on.
But that has changed over the years, as the media player evolved, thanks to hundreds of coders across the globe tinkering with the software.
Since it first launched back in 2003, Kodi has been shaped by some 500 developers and 200 translators.
And now the open-source media player runs on a whole host of different devices. In fact, some estimates place 20 million devices in use in the UK at the moment.
Unlike the Apple TV, Google ChromeCast or others, the Kodi media player is not restricted by licensing agreements, or a curated app store.
That means Kodi users can download a plethora of community-built apps, that might not be approved under the guidelines that govern the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and others.
The Kodi software itself is perfectly legal, however, it does allow users to install additional applications that allow them to access copyrighted material – uploaded, shared or streamed from other users across the globe.
Kodi users could be threatened with a 10 year prison sentence
Those who use the Kodi platform to access this material would be taking a serious risk.
The IPO has called a consultation and is asking for input from a number of groups with experience of investigating and prosecuting offences related to these streaming devices, often dubbed Fully-Loaded Kodi Boxes when being sold on online marketplaces or auction websites, TorrentFreak has reported.
Anyone with relevant information for the UK Intellectual Property Office is also welcome to participate in the consultation.
An example of the Kodi Boxes that are available to buy online
“Despite the legitimate use of this equipment, software is widely available (illicit Kodi extensions being the best known) which connect the boxes to illegal content through streaming websites, file lockers and BitTorrent trackers.”
According to the UK Intellectual Property Office, the proliferation of devices with the required software preinstalled – sold at relatively low prices online – has triggered to a sharp increase in use from consumers.
It’s these ready-made streaming set-top boxes, sold using hardware from a variety of different brands, that are colloquially dubbed Kodi Boxes.
The Mixdoctor Team Member of koditalk.org