Kodi users who install illegal add-ons for the open source media player could soon be prosecuted in the United Kingdom, according to the head of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), a British intellectual property watchdog. FACT Chief Executive Officer Kieron Sharp recently said that consumers breaking copyright laws with illegal add-ons for Kodi may find themselves exposed by investigators in "the very near future," revealing that the agency is considering expanding the scope of its operations and start cracking down on users, in addition to developers and retailers involved in the process of creating and distributing such software.
Authorities in the UK and other territories have so far been struggling with targeting users of illegal Kodi add-ons due to the fact that they weren't able to reliably identify who is using those tools; with Kodi itself being completely legal, copyright watchdogs cannot target the entirety of its user base and are instead looking for more precise means of detecting copyright violations and their perpetrators, with Sharp believing that retailers selling "fully loaded" Kodi-powered set-top boxes may prove to be crucial for FACT's plans. As the process of discovering and installing illegal Kodi add-ons is relatively complicated, a market for media players pre-loaded with such software has slowly emerged, and cracking down on that segment may allow authorities to consequently reach end users who are also "committing criminal offenses" just like the people who are developing and selling illegal Kodi add-ons do, Sharp said.
Sellers of IPTV boxes usually keep records of their customers and proving that they're retailing devices pre-loaded with links to copyrighted content and add-ons that allow streaming of such files is enough to compel them to yield those records, paving the way for the prosecution of consumers who purchase those devices, FACT believes. It's currently unclear when is the agency planning to start pursuing this strategy and whether it will be a viable long-term solution for prosecuting users of illegal Kodi add-ons seeing how it's based on a precedent set by the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) in April, with that judicial body ruling that selling set-top boxes with links to copyrighted content and streaming of such files is illegal just like downloading protected IPs is. Since the UK is expected to exit the EU by March of 2019 as per the conditions of the Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, the ECJ's recent ruling may not be able to serve as a legal basis for prosecuting UK-based users of illegal Kodi add-ons for long.