It's no surprise that piracy enabling set-top boxes, often referred to as Kodi boxes, are popular. But did you know just how popular? According to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) estimates that over a million of them have been sold over the past two years, with 25 per cent of the public admitting to accessing pirated content.
This new information comes from a brand new report from FACT, in association with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, Intellectual Property Office, Police Scotland, and anti-piracy outfit Entura International. It's called Cracking Down on Digital Piracy and offers an overview of the world of online piracy and how everything works.
Surprisingly, though, the report claims that 75 per cent of British people are totally legit, and don't use any dubious means to access content online. That's up up from 70 per cent back in 2013. That means 25 per cent of people do, though it appears the data was collected with a survey so relies on people actually being honest about their activities.
According to the report the UK is one of the countries most affected by the increased demand for Kodi boxes, to the point where boxes are already pre-configured when they enter the country. They're then stored in 'fulfilment houses' with other illegal electrical goods ready to be sold on social media. The boxes themselves include one-off purchases, and those that require monthly paid subscriptions for continued access to illegal streams.
However the report points out that a lot of the boxes are imported legally, and then modified with the piracy-enabling content after they enter the UK. Others rely on established European criminal networks to acquire the boxes, and often end up selling hundreds or thousands of them before they're caught by authorities.
The suppliers themselves reportedly range from individuals working with friends and family, to larger organisations with links to other organised crimes. Apparently selling the boxes offers a far steadier level of income compared to, say, drugs, and are considered quite low risk.
While we've heard a fair bit about Kodi box sellers being prosecuted, FACT claims that these cases are just the "tip of the iceberg". It claims that there are many other large-scale cases that are still in the early stages, and will become public knowledge in the next few months and years. While FACT couldn't comment on the nature of those investigations, a source told TorrentFreak that the people selling premium IPTV subscriptions are likely to come under fire - if they're not already.
Unlike Kodi boxes, which are usually one-off purchases, IPTV subscriptions are designed to offer better quality content and streams for just a few pounds a month. The more people who buy a box and subscribe can make it quite lucrative, so naturally FACT is going to be going after them at some point.