Two members of our staff, Gary Broadfield (Fraud Solicitor) and Paul Fleming (Advocate) were involved in a high profile case at Teesside Crown Court in relation to Brian Thompson selling illegal Kodi IPTV boxes on Friday 20th October.
The case involved Brian Thompson, a trader based in Middlesbrough, who sold “fully loaded” Kodi boxes which had been installed with third-party add-ons that can access pirated content including subscription channels including Sky Sports 1 and unreleased films. Thompson advertised the Kodi boxes outside his outlet with the sign “Sick of paying monthly subscriptions? Free Sky, Box Nation, Racing UK” before his shop was raided by Trading Standards officers in 2015.
A Kodi box is a ready-to-use box or television stick preloaded with software which contains content which is designed to play legally owned media or content that is readily available on the internet. However, the software can be modified with third-party add-ons that can access illegal copies of films, TV series and access to subscription channels.
Teesside Crown Court heard how the losses to Sky were estimated to be around £200,000 in subscriptions they did not receive over the period Thompson was trading. Instead, he had made an estimated £40,000 during this time.
While Thompson initially denied any wrongdoing as he believed that the law surrounding Kodi boxes was a “grey area”, he went on to plead guilty and admit one count of selling and one count of advertising devices “designed, produced or adapted for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of effective technological measures”.
After entering a “guilty” plea, he was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years.
Judge Peter Armstrong stated that there could be no doubt about the legality of the fully loaded boxes by saying: "Those who lawfully have to pay £50 a month or more on Sky or BT subscriptions, are done a disservice by people like you and those who buy these devices".
He also went on to outline that although he had suspended Thompson’s jail sentence, other offenders in the future may not be so fortunate.