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Illegal streaming boxes ‘threaten copyright progress’

Intellectual_property_officeAdapted set-top boxes that let users illegally stream premium content risk undermining recent progress in copyright infringement, according to a UK government report.

The UK Intellectual Property Office-commissioned study said that streaming giants such as Netflix and Spotify are keeping infringement levels stable, and the number of consumers accessing exclusively free content is at an all-time low.

However, it identified devices like fully loaded Kodi boxes, which allow users to stream live sports and Hollywood movies for free, as a threat and published a call for views. The government response is due to be published later this summer.

“Thirteen per cent of online infringers are using streaming boxes that can be easily adapted to stream illicit content,” according to the Online Copyright Infringement (OCI) Tracker.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) estimates that 15% of UK internet users, some 7 million people, either stream or download material that infringes copyright.

A report commissioned by the IPO and PRS for Music also revealed that 15% of internet users have been involved in ‘stream-ripping’ music from the web.

“It’s great that legal streaming sites continue to be a hugely popular choice for consumers. The success and popularity of these platforms show the importance of evolution and innovation in the entertainment industry,” said Ros Lynch, copyright and IP enforcement director at the IPO.

“Ironically it is innovation that also benefits those looking to undermine IP rights and benefit financially from copyright infringement. There has never been more choice or flexibility for consumers of TV and music, however illicit streaming devices and stream-ripping are threatening this progress.

“Content creators deserve to be paid for their work – it is not a grey area. This government takes IP infringement extremely seriously and we are working with our industry partners and law enforcement to tackle this emerging threat.”

A YouGov study from earlier this year claimed that nearly 5 million UK adults, some 10% of the population, now use pirate TV streaming services or apps – such as illegal Kodi boxes, chipped Amazon Fire TV Sticks, and illegal streaming apps on smartphones and tablets.