Last week officers from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) arrested six individuals suspected of being involved in the supply of ‘pirate’ Internet-enabled set-top boxes.
Aimed at hampering the popularity of Android and similar devices used to access free movies, TV shows and live sports, the multi-location raids netted just 42 devices. Now it appears that the police have hit a relative jackpot.
PIPCU say that after executing two search warrants at a business premises and home address in East London, more than 500 Internet-enabled ‘pirate’ boxes have been seized. Police say they had been configured to illegally access subscription-only services.
Police have also confirmed the arrest of a 38-year-old man who was detained on suspicion of making and/or supplying articles for use in fraud, conspiracy to defraud, and two further offenses under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act and Proceeds of Crime Act.
PIPCU say that its investigation began in February 2016 after a broadcaster complained that modified devices were being sold both on the Internet and from a shop in Walthamstow. Details coming out of PIPCU are scarce but it’s possible that the broadcaster in question was either Sky TV and/or the Premier League, whose content is widely offered for streaming via these kinds of units.
Police have not yet made public the name of the business that was raided in Walthamstow but TorrentFreak is aware that one of the most popular sellers of Kodi-enabled Android devices operates from a shop in that same area. That could be a coincidence of course but TF’s request for comment sent to that shop’s website remains unanswered.
While we wait for more information, PIPCU says it will be asking the vendor raided yesterday to remove all illegal set top boxes from online sale. Interestingly, however, if that doesn’t happen PIPCU says it will take further action that could have a crippling effect on the business.
“Officers at PIPCU will be ordering the vendor to take the appropriate action to remove any illegal set top boxes from online sales sites,” PIPCU says.
“If the items continue to be sold online, then action will be taken to suspend the site by working closely with Nominet, the UK’s central registry for all .uk domains. This remains protocol for any site in breach of the Copyright and Trademark Act.”
The recent action carried out by PIPCU against sellers of IPTV devices is not unexpected. While modified editions of the legal Kodi software have been used on desktop machines for many years, the advent of cheap Android-based equipment has brought the streaming of movies, TV shows, sports and other content into the living rooms of countless non-tech savvy individuals.
With software like Popcorn Time and Showbox also gaining in popularity due to their placement on these devices, plug-and-play piracy is now a reality and rightsholders everywhere are more than tired of it.