YouTube, Kodi and turning the tide on illegal streaming

18 Jul 2017

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has put major streaming sites such as Kodi in the line of fire in connection with its reputation as a provider of illegal streaming in all forms of media entertainment. In their latest report, the IPO has referenced that set-top boxes like Kodi present a real threat against copyright progress. The report outlines that despite the rise of legal streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon Go, 7 million UK internet users are still accessing illegal content online.

Ros Lynch, copyright and IP enforcement director at the IPO, said: “Content creators deserve to be paid for their work – it is not a grey area.” He asserts that the government takes intellectual property (IP) infringement seriously and that cooperation between industry partners and law enforcement will work to tackle the emerging threat. The same report references that 13% of online infringers are using streaming boxes to access illicit content.

A cause for concern for the IPO and the PRS for Music is the increased rise of “stream-ripping” by internet users. Users are “ripping” songs directly from legitimate music videos on the world’s largest video sharing website, YouTube. The IPO and PRS report that 15% of internet users have undertaken stream-ripping actions. In fact, 24% of stream-rippers do not see it as an infringement of IP rights.

Other internet services, such as Amazon, have now banned “fully loaded” box sets from being sold on their website. Facebook and eBay have also joined the ban on sales of Kodi boxes.

The streaming of sports is as endemic in music or film. Sky and BT Sport hold the live rights for Premier League Football and with such rights costing over £5 billion, the results of a poll showing that nearly half of all fans have streamed online means that rights holders are increasingly incentivised to eradicate piracy. According to a BBC survey, 44% of sports streamers are either unsure or believe that such sites are legal.

In March, a High Court Judge granted an Order for the UK’s four biggest internet providers to block access to streaming sites. This is a step in a positive direction to end the confusion over the question of the legality of streaming sites. The government response is eagerly awaited.

To discuss any of the issues raised in this piece, please contact me via the details below. You can learn more about our Intellectual Property team here.

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