A man from Hartlepool in the north-east of England has been left with a bill of £250,000 after being persecuted for selling pre-loaded Kodi boxes to pubs and clubs around the region, which could have been used to stream live sport and other content. He was also given a suspended 10-month jail sentence.
The Mayes Case
Malcolm Mayes, who is 65 years old, was accused of placing adverts in national magazines which were targeted at local entertainment spots according to a report in the Teeside Gazette. In the advert, he claimed that the boxes were 100% legal.
However, an investigation by Hartlepool Council Trading Standards led to them prosecuting him and at trial, he chose to plead guilty.
Ian Harrison, speaking on behalf of Hartlepool Council Trading Standards, said in a statement “In pleading guilty, he has accepted that it is illegal to sell a device that allows the free viewing of pay-to-view television.” He also alleged that many of the devices didn’t work.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, also weighed into the case saying that operating such boxes were a “breach of copyright law.”
Kodi is legal
However, both statements are likely to cause confusion and even panic amongst people already using Kodi because they are misleading.
As we have written previously, using Kodi is not illegal and is not in breach of any copyright law. It is a completely legal programme and so possession of Kodi is not going to get you into trouble.
It is, however, true that Kodi can be used for illegal purposes. As a piece of open-source software, it can be adapted by users and there are numerous different add-ons that can be downloaded. Some of these add-ons might be in breach of the law, but that is likely to depend on the local laws in the country where you are.
Some add-ons make it possible to watch copyrighted content such as movies and live sports broadcasts, but even in these cases, the law itself is not clear.
In the UK, European law suggests that streaming rather than downloading content is not against the law and the law does make a distinction between the two.
Why is Malcolm Mayes in trouble?
In this particular case, it is Malcolm Mayes’ action in selling Kodi boxes with software already installed on it that is illegal. In doing so, he is facilitating others in breaching copyright law and therefore it is completely understandable that he has been prosecuted.
The statements made by both Hartlepool Council Trading Standards and Lord Toby Harris are misleading in that regard and shouldn’t be misconstrued.
Because whilst we would never recommend using Kodi to infringe copyright, it is an excellent piece of media software which can be easily installed onto operating systems such as Windows and even mobile devices such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
We would also strongly recommend using a VPN with your Kodi system as being open source it can be a fertile platform for hackers and cyber-criminals too.
Malcolm Mayes attempted to exploit Kodi to illegally make money which is why he has been hit with a suspended jail sentence, a Proceeds of Crime Order of £80,000, and has to pay £170,000 in costs. But for most people, Kodi is simple a flexible and user-friendly bit of software and a great way to stream content online.