IPTV – Illicit Streaming
Illicit streaming is the distribution and watching of content without the copyright owner’s permission. This could be using a smart TV, laptop or mobile phone, as well as devices such as ‘Kodi’ boxes, Amazon Fire Sticks or Android boxes which are intended solely for the purposes of streaming. This is known as Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). These devices are legal when used to watch legitimate, free to air content or for paid subscription channels such as Netflix; however, they become illegal once adapted to stream illicit content.
The actual technology used in IPTV is legal and the boxes used to access the signals were originally designed to allow consumers to stream legitimate content to their TV via a broadband connection. However, there is software available, the most widely known being
Kodi, which, when installed with illicit add-ons, allows the user to access illegal content through streaming websites.
By configuring the boxes in this way, the consumer can easily access illicit websites that allow access to subscription TV, Premier League football, films and sports events for the one-off price of a box. Content is provided through a server, which can be located anywhere in the world.
Using illicit devices is problematic for a number of reasons:
- Child safety: the restriction facilities and parental controls provided by regulated streaming services are lost, meaning that children can easily be exposed to explicit or age inappropriate content
- Electrical safety: many devices have non-standard plugs and, where tested, many have failed UK and EU safety standards
- Malware, viruses and spyware – illegal streaming devices and platforms are one of the main sources of malicious software. Consumers are at risk of criminals accessing personal data and account details held on their computer
- No customer support: if the service fails, the only support available to customers is reprogramming, which usually incurs another fee
- Unreliability – the streams provided can be removed without notice and can fail if a large number of customers are accessing the service. Consumers won’t receive a refund if this happens.
- Damage to the creative industries, which provide 1.9 million jobs within the UK and contributes £84.1 billion to the UK economy
- Links to serious and organised crime: the significant profits made from the sale of illegal streaming devices and services often helps to fund international criminal groups.
The Digital Economy Act 2017 means that people can now face ten year prison sentences for illegally streaming copyright content. However the new law will most likely target individuals and groups making a business out of selling illegal content.
An increasing number of IPTV systems are being sold to publicans to allow them to show live Premier League football and other sporting events without paying subscription charges. Landlords who are convicted of illegally streaming sports events can face fines of over £20,000.
Illicit Streaming – Is it Worth the Risk?
What You Can Do
Be wary of using illicit streaming devices. Consider the risks to your own and your family’s safety before purchasing a device or downloading any software which would allow you to access content which would normally require a subscription.
Devices which don’t include the following may not conform to product safety standards:
- Details about the manufacturer and CE mark
- User instructions in the correct language
- Safety warnings on the product and ratings label
- Fitted with an approved UK 3 pin plug or an approved conversion plug
- Correct supply lead which is properly fitted
- No live parts should be accessible due to risk of electrical shock
- Robust materials with secure covers and connections
If you have concerns about a device you have purchased, contact Advice Direct Scotland in confidence on 0808 164 6000.