British Politician Calls for Kodi Box Crackdown

Kodi Boxes are increasingly becoming the favourite target of major multinational corporations. One British politician says he wants to crack down on the legal devices.

For long time observers of the copyright debate, it’s a very familiar debate. Throughout the 2000s and early 2010s, file-sharing is killing the music industry. Unless something is done to put a stop to it, the music industry will die and music will fade away completely. Before that, the mix tape is suppose to bring about the death of the music industry. These are by far not the only examples of what technology is supposed to kill the entertainment industry.

So, what is the latest technology that is supposed to be killing the entertainment industry? One of them is the Kodi Box. Even opponents to technology admit that they are actually perfectly legal. Still, that isn’t stopping them from trying to criminalize the technology. A recent effort is being made by former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale. The British Conservative warns that Kodi Boxes are killing the movie and TV industry and that more needs to be done to stop the technology. From Advanced Television:

“Unfortunately, this year, more than a million households are likely to conduct their viewing via illicit streaming devices [ISDs],” he says. “In doing so they will be undermining the economics of Britain’s world-leading creative industry and threatening to make it harder for our content creators to bring their ideas to life. ISDs, such as Kodi boxes, are a generation on from illegal computer downloads, because too often they allow consumers to watch infringing content directly on their living room television, thus normalising an illegal act,” he claims.

“Although the boxes themselves are legal, they are normally bought for the apps that can be added, enabling illegal streaming of films currently in the cinema, of TV programmes not yet aired in the UK, or of sports content only legitimately available on subscription channels More than a million of these boxes have been sold in the last two years, so even if you’re not using one, you probably know someone who is,” he suggests.

“The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) estimates that 13 per cent of online infringers are using streaming boxes, while around 6.5 million UK internet users are accessing pirated content in some form. The IPO launched a call for views on the subject nearly a year ago, but has inexplicably failed to publish its findings, meaning that the government does not yet have a full understanding of how much Kodi boxes are costing our economy, or a plan for defeating the pirates,” he asserts.

“Researchers have suggested that Kodi box pirates are siphoning as much as $4.2 billion a year out of the creative economy in the United States. In the UK, the impact on television and film producers alone is estimated at around £820 million – and that figure doesn’t include losses incurred by pay-TV providers and sports rights holders,” he advises.

The article doesn’t cite the IPO source, but we were able to track down the likely source of the comments to this page. The statistics presented are posted without sources, so there’s no way to know exactly who came up with those numbers or how it is even calculated.

Of course, made up numbers to show the so-called “harms” of piracy is a pretty famous aspect of the copyright debate. Leaked discussions among anti-piracy organizations in the past have shown e-mail exchanges where they make up a number that “sounds good”. In other cases, the math basically involves the famous one download means one lost sale. A mathematical formula that has long since been debunked.

In other cases, the math to show the so-called losses got so out of control, that it exceeded the entire GDP of first world countries. In 2013, INTA (The International Trademark Association) floated numbers that showed that losses due to piracy exceeded the entire GDP of Australia. In 2006, another statistic showed that one month of torrenting costs the copyright industry more than entire GDP of France.

As a result of the credibility hits, it is often impossible to really treat such numbers seriously. In this case, what is used to calculate the losses are non-existent. Could it just be a made up number? Judging by the page in question, it might have been just a random number thrown out there.

At any rate, this seems to be another case of taking something old and turning into something new. The technology might have changed, but the debate lines remain the same.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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