These days there's so much TV content to consume it's impossible (and expensive) to get it all in one place. So people have tried to fill the market with devices or services that let people stream whatever content they like at minimal cost, despite how illegal it may be. The police and rights holders are never too happy with them, and two more pirate-entrepreneurs have been jailed for selling 'Ooberstick' devices powered by Kodi.
Ooberstick Ltd was directed by Glenn Burrows, from Norfolk, and designed to sell devices running a custom build of Kodi and various streaming add-ons. According to TorrentFreak they weren't fully configured when they were shipped out, meaning the customers had to finish the process off themselves. Together with a second company, Oober Media Ltd, Ooberstick was able to amass thousands of customers - so it was natural that the police would come knocking.
Burrows and his associate Darren Wicks (from Wiltshire) were arrested way back on 13th December 2016, with sources telling TorrentFreak the 7.20am raid involved six police officers and a representative of Sky. Both were eventually released on bail, with Burrows claiming he thought his business was legal - something many people claim when they find themselves in a similar situation.
“I was running a successful business which was both VAT registered in the U.K. and with Worldpay as my payment merchant. For me to get both of those, those parties have to be sure that what I was doing was legal.”
Police have made it clear plenty of times that making money by enabling piracy is very much illegal, and worth reiterating. Burrows eventually changed his tune and pleaded guilty last September, on charges of intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence, and a money laundering offence. Wicks pleaded guilty tointentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence.
Both men were sentenced last Friday, with Burows receiving 22 months in prison and made subject to a Serious Crime Prevention Order. That prevents him from selling online for five years, and requires him to inform police of his online identities. Wicks received a 20-month sentence that's been suspended for two years, plus an order to complete 250 hours of unpaid work.
Detective Sergeant Samantha Shevlin of the Norfolk and Suffolk Police Cyber Crime Unit. said:
“I hope these sentences send a clear message that the use of illicit streaming devices to watch content without the copyright owner’s permission is illegal.
The sale of these boxes has a huge effect on the content owners, broadcasters and the wider public who will end up paying the price for others’ dishonesty. The message really is that simple – devices like this or using one at home to watch content you normally would pay for is breaking the law.”