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Selling ‘fully loaded’ Kodi boxes to pubs lands man £250k fine

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A man selling “fully-loaded” Kodi set-top boxes for a one-time fee of £1,000 has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay a £250,000 fine.

Malcolm Mayes, 65, from Hartlepool sold the boxes to pubs and clubs around the UK, enabling them to show live sports and pay per view events to customers (via BBC).

Public venues like pubs and clubs are subject to much larger fees to broadcast subscription television events, far beyond what consumers are asked to pay.

Sky charges pubs £1,400 a month to show Sky Sports events, while BT Sport costs pubs £395 a month.

Related: Could buying a Kodi box soon be illegal?

The Kodi media centre software is not illegal, but the third-party add-ons that enable copyrighted content to be screened freely are illegal.

Mr Mayes, who has over £1m in assets, had advertised the boxes were “100% legal” in national magazines, prompting many establishments to sign up believing they were on the right side of the law.

After pleading guilty to charges of breaching the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act, he was order to pay £170,000 costs and an £80,000 Proceeds of Crime Order.

Trading Standards manager Ian Harrison said: "In pleading guilty, he has accepted it is illegal to sell a device that allows the free viewing of pay-to-view television.

"Mr Mayes should not be seen as a Robin Hood-type character. In selling these devices he wasn't stealing from the rich to help the poor. He was stealing to make himself richer."

Do you think Sky and BT asks too much of pubs for the right to show live sport? Share your thoughts below.

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