There are now one million Kodi Boxes in use across the UK, research has shown.
The figures come courtesy of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) which claims more than one million piracy-enabled devices have been sold in the UK within the past two years.
For those unaware, Kodi is a neutral, open-source media player that can be installed on a broad range of devices – from discount set-top boxes powered by Android, to known brands, like Amazon Fire TV Stick.
This versatility enables third-party developers to leverage the platform to stream premium content without paying.
The abundance of these illegal streaming add-ons has left Kodi with an unfortunate reputation.
So-called Kodi Boxes are devices, manufactured by a number of different brands, with all the requisite third-party software to stream paid-for content for free preinstalled on the set-top box.
This illegal modification can occur before or after the devices are imported into the UK.
The FACT research was conducted in association with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, Intellectual Property Office, Police Scotland, and anti-piracy outfit Entura International.
It revealed that 25 per cent of the public access content illegally online.
According to the FACT report, the UK is one of the countries most affected by the increasing demand for Kodi boxes.
Those supplying the Kodi Boxes range from individuals building boxes for a select few friends and family, to sprawling organised crime networks.
There has been a steady stream of reports of individuals who have been arrested for selling these devices, however, FACT claims these are just the “tip of the iceberg”.
According to FACT, there are a number of large-scale operations currently in the early stages.
However, the organisation is unable to specify any other details at the moment.
The crackdown on so-called Kodi Boxes is likely to carry severe penalties.
Back in April, the EU Court of Justice judgement in the Filmspeler case included confirmation that streaming by end users on illicit set-top boxes, like those powered by Kodi, constitutes an infringement of copyright.
The new Digital Economy Act, which comes into effect in the UK on October 1st 2017, has extended criminal penalties for online copyright infringement to match those of physical copyright infringement – maximum sentences will increase from two years to 10 years.
This change could result in longer custodial sentences for the criminals involved in distributing illicit streaming devices.