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This is the government's official guidance on Kodi boxes

The streaming devices are an increasingly popular way to watch premium channels for free

What is Kodi? How the service works

More and more people are choosing to use Kodi boxes to stream films, sport and television.

But the devices are illegal and a few people who have used them have ended up in court.

Now the government has had to publish official guidance on the devices, Mirror Online reports.

Following a landmark court case and a rise in sales, the government’s Intellectual Property Office shared this advice on whether Kodi boxes are actually illegal.

Here’s what it says...

What is ‘illicit streaming’?

‘Illicit streaming’ is watching content without the copyright owner’s permission by any means, not just via hardware devices like Kodi boxes.

This could be using a smart TV, laptop or mobile phone.

Illicit streaming devices are physical boxes connected to a TV, or USB sticks that plug into the TV, like adapted Amazon Fire sticks and Kodi boxes or Android TV boxes.

These devices are legal when used to watch legitimate, free to air, content.

However, they become illegal when they are adapted to stream ‘illicit content’, like TV programmes, films and subscription sports channels without paying the appropriate subscriptions.

Adapting a streaming device to view illicit content usually requires loading of software add-ons or extensions.

Illicit streaming can also be facilitated by using certain apps on smartphones and tablets.

How do you know if you’re using an illicit streaming device?

If you are watching television programmes, films or sports events that you would normally have to pay for, you’re probably using an illicit streaming device (ISD) or app.

This could include a film recently released in the cinema, a sporting event that is being broadcast by BT Sport or a television programme, like Game of Thrones , that is only available on Sky.

These devices are often purchased online and described as ‘Fully Loaded, Jail Broken, Plug and Play, or Subscription Gift’.

They are described using these terms to show that they have been adapted and are functioning as an illicit streaming device.

In some cases consumers buy devices and subsequently add the software, this also makes it an illicit streaming device.

Why you shouldn’t buy these devices

Illicit streaming devices like Kodi boxes often lack parental controls, so using them could expose children or young people to explicit content.

Another important reason to avoid buying 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 danger to the public, causing a fire in your home or premises.

Above all, using illicit streaming devices is illegal, so if you’re not paying for this content you are breaking the law.

What should you do if you already have a ‘Kodi’ box?

These devices can be used legally by removing the software that enables you to watch pay-per-view content for free.

If you wish to watch content that’s only available via subscription, such as sports, you should approach the relevant provider to find out about legal ways to watch.

Where to get further advice?

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Citizens Advice provides free, confidential and independent advice.

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