In a case originating from the United Kingdom, a shopkeeper pled not guilty to charges of circumventing copyright and anti-piracy laws by selling pre-loaded software which allows users to watch video streams of TV shows and other media. With the advent of these types of devices, which include other popular devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and Apple TV, users can download and stream media content; however, in places like the United Kingdom, these services have been used to watch movies, TV shows, live TV, and even Pay-Per-View events without paying for the service.[i] According to the website engadget, “Over in the UK, the authorities raided Brian Thompson’s Cut Price Tomo TV’s and have charged him with two offenses under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.”[ii] This matter is believed to be one of the first cases to deal with the sale of these pre-loaded devices.
Mr. Thompson, who has been charged with two offenses under section 296ZB of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, seeks clarity on the rule, specifically as it pertains to individuals who sell these devices with pre-loaded software, as opposed to DIY users at home. Under section 296ZB, “A person commits an offense if he…sells or lets for hire, any device, product or component which is primarily designed, produced, or adapted for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of effective technological measures.”[iii] According to Mr. Thompson, “If I am found guilty and the court rules that I am breaking the law selling these boxes, I want to know what that means for people buying and selling mobile phones or laptops because the software is available for all of them.”[iv] While the problem does not appear to be as widespread in the United States as it is in the United Kingdom, this case has the potential to establish significant legal precedent as it pertains to this ever-growing platform.
[i] ‘Pirate’ Kodi Box Seller Enters “Not Guilty” Plea in Landmark Case, TorrentFreak (2017), https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-kodi-box-seller-enters-not-guilty-plea-landmark-trial/ (last visited Feb 2, 2017).
[ii] Richard Lawler, ‘Fully loaded’ Kodi box seller pleads not guilty Engadget (2017), https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/27/fully-loaded-kodi-box-seller-pleads-not-guilty/ (last visited Feb 2, 2017).
[iii] ‘Pirate’ Kodi Box Seller Enters “Not Guilty” Plea in Landmark Case, TorrentFreak (2017), https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-kodi-box-seller-enters-not-guilty-plea-landmark-trial/ (last visited Feb 2, 2017).
[iv] Jane Wakefield, Not guilty plea in landmark Kodi box trial BBC News (2017), http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-38769045 (last visited Feb 2, 2017).