IPTV is the new streaming service that is set to rival the phenomenon that was Kodi.
Kodi was a service that allowed viewers to stream Freeview TV, instead of receiving signals through an ariel or fibre optic cable.
However, many people found a way to hack Kodi, meaning you could watch all sorts of usually paid-for channels like Sky Sports and Sky Movies.
But now we have IPTV, which stands for Internet Protocol Television.
Birmingham Live report that IPTV is running a similar service, but you need to know the law surrounding it.
What is it?
You can get a 72 hour trial on the website by clicking here. An IPTV box loaded up with your favourite channels is also available if you don't want a trial.
Think Netflix, NowTV and Amazon.
Even the BBC uses IPTV with it's iPlayer service, but that's a different type as it's a live broadcast simultaneously.
These are completely legal services which you pay a fee to access as an alternative to a cabled or satellite connection.
You select a TV program or movie you want to watch from a wide range, pay your money, and watch it there and then.
The third kind of IPTV involves broadcasting live TV programs across the internet as they're being watched – so it's live IPTV or IP simulcasting.
The devices come in a variety of forms that are physically connected to your TV.
From set-top boxes to “sticks”, they allow the streaming services to be accessed by your TV.
Where does the law stand?
Like Kodi before it, there are copyright issues.
Where Kodi was concerned, there were kits on the market, including those by names like Apple and Amazon, that allow consumers to stream internet content on their TV.
Some of these are of questionable legality because they give access to the latest movies, pay-per-views and Premier League football.
Authorities say it is illegal to modify kits to receive this material – prosecutions have started to happen.
What does the law actually say?
In a landmark ruling in 2017, the Court of Justice of the European Union stated that the temporary reproduction of a copyright-protected work, obtained without the consent of the copyright holder, is NOT exempt from the “right of reproduction”.
The right of reproduction states that no person other than the copyright owner can make any reproductions or copies of the work.
The ruling effectively means that anyone who streams an illegally copied film or TV show is breaking the law – just as they would be if they downloaded it.
The court explained that streaming this content “adversely affects the normal exploitation of those works and causes unreasonable prejudice to the legitimate interests of the copyright holders”.
In other words, copyright owners are losing money because people are streaming content for free online, rather than paying for subscriptions.
The ruling is significant because it means the fact that streaming only generates temporary files is no longer a legitimate defence against charges of copyright infringement.
Streaming pirated content counts as a civil offence rather than criminal one, meaning you'll only get in trouble if the copyright holder decides to sue you, but it may change the way many people think about streaming.
Who else is cracking down on the devices?
A crackdown by FACT, Greater Manchester Police, City of London Police and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is targeting those involved in the sale and distribution of these illegal “fully loaded” devices.
FACT's priority is to “disrupt and combat individuals manufacturing, importing, selling and re-selling these illegal devices”.
While the end user is not a target, they could get swept up in one of FACT's operations, and could become part of the whole criminal investigation, the organisation said.
Of course, this doesn't stop people from buying “clean” Kodi boxes, and then downloading the copyright infringing add-ons themselves.
Many people also download the Kodi media player onto another TV streaming device – such as a Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV Stick – and install the plug-ins from there.
What are the penalties?
The penalties for sellers are high – it could result in time behind bars.
In December 2016, Terry O'Reilly was sentenced to four years imprisonment for selling illegal set-top TV boxes, a prosecution brought by the Premier League with support from FACT.
Meanwhile in February, set-top boxes pre-loaded with Kodi streaming software were seized at the homes of the five suspects in Bolton, Bootle, Cheadle, Manchester and Rhyl.
It is believed the suspects had made in the region of £250,000 selling the devices online.
What about penalties for people using the boxes?
FACT claims that, “if you are accessing premium pay-for content, like Sky, BT Sport and Virgin Media, and you do not have a subscription with an official provider then this is unlawful access”.
However, it is unclear exactly what law you would be breaking.
If you were to download an illegally copied file, that would constitute copyright infringement. However, when you stream something online, the file is stored only temporarily on your computer – and temporary copies are exempt from copyright laws.
In a landmark ruling in 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that internet users who look at copyrighted material online aren't breaking the law by doing so, citing Article 5.1 of the EU Copyright Directive.
It stated that copies of copyrighted material that appear “on the users computer screen” and “in the internet ‘cache' of that computer's hard disk” are “temporary” and “may therefore be made without the authorisation of the copyright holders”.
Morally, of course, it's a completely different matter.
Anyone accessing content from a pirate site is involving themselves in unlawful behaviour, often putting money into the hands of criminals.
They are also undermining the legitimate sale of subscription TV services, which employ tens of thousands of people in the UK, and whose contributions are key to the creative and sporting industries.
Furthermore, accessing illegal sites can leave your computer vulnerable to viruses and other harmful content.
What is the Premier League doing?
The Premier League says it has launched its “largest ever” crackdown on streaming devices.
A spokesman for the Premier League said: “We are currently engaged in our largest ever anti-piracy campaign to protect our copyright.
“Like other sports and creative industries our model is predicated on the ability to market and sell rights and protect our intellectual property.
“It is because of this that clubs can invest in and develop talented players, build world-class stadiums, support the English football pyramid and schools and communities across the country – all things that fans enjoy and wider society benefits from.”
What is Kodi doing to prevent illegal streaming?
Birmingham Mail says it is unable to get hold of anyone from Kodi to discuss the steps the company is taking to prevent its media player from being used for illegal streaming.
In the past, the company has maintained an officially neutral stance on what users do with their own software.
“Kodi is open source software, and as long as the GPL (General Public License) is followed, you are welcome to do with it as you like,” Kodi Product Manager Nathan Betzen told TorrentFreak last year.
“While we don't love this use of Kodi, as long as you know what illegal and potentially dangerous things you are getting yourself into and accept the fact that the Team will not be providing you with any support, then you are welcome to do what you like.”
However, the company is going after sellers who use the Kodi trademark to flog fully-loaded set-top boxes without permission.
“We will issue trademark takedown notices anywhere we think the likelihood for confusion is high,” said Betzen.
“If you are selling a box on your website designed to trick users into thinking broken add-ons come from us and work perfectly, so you can make a buck, we're going to do everything we can to stop you.”
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Written by David Minister
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