Are you streaming free shows on Kodi? Government publishes guidance on what the law says you can and can't do amid piracy crackdown

It's one of the most popular TV streaming services in the world, but new guidelines seek to crackdown on the illegal use of Kodi boxes.

Government recommendations have outlined what the law says you can and can't do with the media devices, in a bid to protect copyrighted material from piracy.

Among other concerns is that the gadgets could expose children to inappropriate content, as well as warnings that they may present a fire hazard.

The guidelines have been published by the UK government's Intellectual Property Office (IPO), to address what it terms 'illicit streaming devices'.

The boxes themselves, often unbranded, are not illegal to own and the Kodi software they run is also legal to own and use.

The problem comes, the IPO says, once the devices are adapted to stream illicit content, with sellers often labelling them as 'Fully Loaded', 'Jailbroken' or 'Plug and Play'.

Any content that normally incurs a fee to watch, including TV programmes, films and subscription sports channels, is illegal to access for free, the guidance warns.

The IPO wants anyone who comes across the adapted boxes for sale to contact Crimestoppers.

It also advises that removing modifications to access pirated material will make the boxes legal to operate again.

Writing in the guidance, an IPO spokesman said: 'The creative industries in the UK is a very important sector.

'It provides employment for more than 1.9 million people and contributes 84.1 billion to our economy.

'If you are not paying for this content you are depriving industry of the revenue it needs to fund the next generation of TV programmes, films and sporting events we all enjoy.

'Instead it provides funds for the organised criminals who sell or adapt these illicit devices.'

The IPO has also warned that using illicit streaming devices could expose children and young people to explicit or age inappropriate content.

It also raises the question of the electrical safety of boxes sold on the black market.

A new report released last week revealed that illegal Kodi boxes can pose a 'substantial' fire and electric shock risks to users.

The report even goes so far as to suggest that some boxes could be lethal, with tests revealing that electric shocks emitted could cause 'fatalities.'

The experts behind the report are now urging people with the devices to 'unplug it and stop using it immediately.'

Researchers from Electrical Safety First have conducted a review of nine Kodi boxes that were taken from raids across the UK.

The boxes were assessed in terms of any faults in the marking, warnings and instructions.

Their analysis revealed that none of the boxes complied with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

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