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‘KODI’ Boxes deemed to breach fair trade and copyright laws in New Zealand

Written by Alex Baker on 13 July 2018

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A New Zealand court has ruled that the sale of ‘pre-loaded’ ‘Kodi’ entertainment devices breaches the country's Fair Trading and Copyright Acts.

Sky TV initially brought the case against NZ Kodi device seller FibreTV for their encouraging of access to copyrighted content which Sky TV owns the reproductive rights to.

Kodi boxes, sold for around $70 in NZ, can allow the owner to access premium channels and content, which are copyrighted, for free without a subscription. The devices support 'add-ons' which can locate websites that stream pirated programmes, or foreign television services that might own copyright for programmes in another country but not in the domestic country in which the device is operating from. 

FibreTV were said to have claimed the boxes were legal to its customers. However, this was deemed a breach of the Fair Trading Act by the court, as while the use of the standard boxes themselves is not illegal, the use of downloadable add-ons to stream copyrighted content is. It was determined by the court that the sale of the ‘pre-loaded’ devices containing the necessary add-ons that permit access to the copyrighted content in and of itself amounted to copyright infringement.

Meanwhile, claims have not been brought against the many individuals – over 100,000 according to SkyTV – who had purchased the devices, only the business that produced and sold them. This is despite the court acknowledging that the customers were themselves breaking copyright law by streaming the content using the devices. Regardless, there was a concern that individuals were purchasing the boxes under the false impression that they were legitimate, and thus SkyTV states that it hopes this ruling will serve to educate consumers concerning the legality of streaming services.

These Kodi boxes have increasingly found themselves in the legal spotlight around the world, including within the UK. Indeed, in a recent criminal case two men were sentenced to a combined total of 42 months in prison for distributing ‘pre-loaded’ Kodi boxes in the UK.

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