June 17, 2015 – 2:54 pm

Sellers of Android boxes loaded with software enabling the free viewing of movies, TV shows and live sports have been raided this week by UK authorities. Trading Standards officers, police and representatives from Sky TV carried out raids in several locations, causing other sellers to quickly reconsider the tone of their marketing efforts. By Andy of TorrentFreak.

While paying subscriptions to services such as Netflix, premium satellite and cable channels, sports broadcasters and PPV outlets are legitimate ways to obtain content on a TV, there are others that require very little outlay.

Apple TV boxes, Android set-top boxes and even the lowly Raspberry PI can run software such as Kodi (previously XBMC) alongside third-party addons to provide all of the above at virtually zero cost. Unsurprisingly, this annoys content providers no end.

While selling any of the above devices alone is entirely legal, over the past couple of years online markets such as eBay and Amazon have been flooded with “fully loaded” boxes (Android-based in particular) that enable free viewing of anything from first run movies to live sports.

Surprisingly, many vendors have been happy to publicly advertise that fact, with many apparently under the impression that if they don’t provide the illegal content themselves then they aren’t liable. In the UK that argument is unlikely to fly and during the past two weeks, patience appeared to have run out.

Earlier last week Trading Standards officers and police carried out raids on sellers of Android boxes setup to receive unauthorized content. One seller, operating from GeekyKit.com, told customers that his physical shops would not be trading as normal.

“As you may be aware we were visited yesterday by Sky [television] in conjunction with Trading Standards. Whilst we continue to investigate our position the stores will remain closed and support will remain suspended. Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused,” he explained.

“We do not control the content that is accessible on the internet via the product that we sell. We are currently working with Trading Standards to ensure that we can sell our products whilst adhering to UK copyright laws.”

Although no details on changes were provided by GeekyKit, the signs on the front of one of their shops will be the first thing to go after leaving little to the imagination.

A source who asked to remain anonymous told TorrentFreak that raids were also carried out at home addresses. In those cases officers reportedly seized computer equipment and mobile phones. A 38-year-old man was arrested under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act.

The raids have certainly provided food for thought for other companies involved in the supply of similar devices. DroidSticks, one of the most prominent UK suppliers, is now limiting discussion on its Twitter account to matters relating only to the device.

Dear All

In light of recent events elsewhere over the last couple of days we have decided that this Twitter feed is going to be for device technical support and promotion purposes only. We were looking into the options of closing it down if not.

Any questions about third party addons or feeds will not be answered and would be grateful if you DO NOT tag as into any photos regarding these. Users that keep doing so will be blocked from using feed if not.

You all have the use of the independent forum xbmckodiaddons.com to ask any other type of questions and they are a great team on these with a wealth of knowledge.

If I can not help with the issue you will be asked to contact [email protected]

Thanks for your understanding in this issue but this has to be done to protect the company in the future going forward.

Kind Regards

Team Droidsticks

Whether or not the company intends to continue packaging third-party addons with its boxes will remain to be seen, but for now ‘pirate’ talk is strictly off-limits. DroidSticks did not respond to our request for comment.

Finally, complying with UK legislation should be a fairly straightforward process if sellers want to play it safe, but that will probably mean never mentioning the “special features” of these boxes in a sales pitch ever again.

It could also mean relying on users to install their own third-party addons from scratch. It’s a simple enough process for those with patience but something unlikely to appeal to Joe Public who increasingly wants a simple plug-and-play device.

Note: Visit TorrentFreak for more updates.

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In $ingapore, users of AC Ryan’s Veolo 4K, an android-based media player, over the past two weeks found one of the player’s popular apps - HD-Cinema - not operable. As the name suggests, this addon offers HD-quality movies (720/1080) at the click of the remote. While HD-Cinema might be gone, like the hydra, two other HD-quality movie apps have appeared to take its place. Meanwhile, a post on HD-Cinema’s Facebook page says: “We will be back… Guys!!!! We really working hard to bring it back!!! Give us some time and will bring your favourite app back. Thanks for 24K likes!!! And please share… Thanks.”

The attraction of android media players such as the Veolo 4K or Pixeplay’s Kuro is their streaming capabilities vis-a-viz third-party addons. Their value can only diminish if these addons continuously get blocked.

One HD-quality streaming app that is proving popular among computer/android users is Popcorn Time. Popcorn Time uses BitTorrent under the hood and it also works on most popular platforms. As long as there are torrent sites such as Pirate Bay and/or Kickass in existence, Popcorn Time will be a viable app. The downside is that torrents need to be well seeded for smooth streaming. However, the initial four-to-five-minute buffering time before a movie can stream on Popcorn Time can put some viewers off. Unlike the HD-Cinema app of old where the streaming is quite stable, some users have found streaming on Popcorn Time to be unstable. Still, for any media player that emphasises HD-quality movie streaming, securing a reliable addon becomes a necessity.

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