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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 21st year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Hide your Kodi, the cops are coming!

9 February 2017

Kodi is a great bit of software made even greater by a range of plug-in software add-ons which turn it into a tool for watching "unauthorised" copies of TV programmes and movies at no cost.

I have recently been astonished to discover just how many "regular folk" have learned about and are using Kodi with Exodus, 1Channel or some of the other plug-ins. That's because, for a long time, this stuff was the domain of geeks but now it's becoming increasingly mainstream.

Obviously the media companies are also becoming aware of just how many people are taking the "free" option over the free-to-air and subscription-based alternatives -- and they're pushing authorities to do something about all this lawlessness in the world's living rooms.

So now the cops are starting to crack down on those who have been selling set-top boxes loaded up with Kodi.

This report from the BBC reports that UK police have started arresting and prosecuting sellers of the ready to use boxes (often Raspberry Pi based) and I would not be surprised if something similar starts happening here.

A quick search of TradeMe brings up auctions like this one which promises that "you can get an assembled Media Centre and preinstalled plugins for only $25". And others like this which claim "get a Media Centre with pre-installed plugins (The top 20 add-ons)".

Now we all know that right at the top of the "top 20 add-ons" are Kodi, 1Channel, Phoenix and SALTS -- all bits of code that give easy and convenient access to a wealth of "unauthorised" content. Does this mean that those selling this kit in NZ are likely to get a visit from Mr Plod sometime soon?

It's actually an interesting question -- since actually *using* those plugins (if they are installed) is not compulsory and therefore one could argue that simply selling something with the potential to be used for breaching copyright ought not be a crime -- any more than selling a carving knife (which can be used to murder someone) should be considered a crime.

I note that in the UK they're still awaiting the outcome of legal test to ascertain the legality or otherwise of selling such boxes. Strange then that they have already gone ahead and arrested people for what may not actually be a crime.

Whatever the situation, it's clear that faced with idiocy like this from traditional media outlets, the public are more than happy to take a punt on a Raspberry Pi and some free software in order to get their fix of TV and movies for free.

I'd love to hear from readers just how many people they know who are using Kodi to access "unauthorised" content via the Net these days. Are these people surprisingly "average" and ungeeky? Will even the more reliable drop-boxes like Vidz.tv, gorillavid.in and streamin.to soon crumble under the weight of traffic created by the Kodi revolution -- effectively driving folk to services such as Netflix?

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