UK Kodi Box Retailer Court Proceedings Have Ended
You may recall around 3 years ago Brian 'Tomo' Thompson from Middlesbrough made the headlines as the first Kodi Box retailer to be hauled through the courts for selling Android Devices pre-loaded with Kodi and third party add-ons.
Brian 'Tomo' Thompson was handed a 2 year prison sentence suspended for 18 months after his premises were raided by F.A.C.T and the Police. 'Tomo' made the headlines due to his in-your-face corner shop which advertised "Free Live TV Boxes" for £69.00.
Thompson had been selling “fully-loaded” piracy-configured Kodi boxes from his shop but didn’t think he’d done anything wrong.
“All I want to know is whether I am doing anything illegal. I know it’s a gray area but I want it in black and white,” he said.
Thompson started out with a particularly brave tone. He insisted he’d take the case to Crown Court and even to the European Court. His mission was show what was legal and what wasn’t, he said.
Very quickly, Thompson’s case took on great importance, with observers everywhere reporting on a potential David versus Goliath copyright battle for the ages. But Thompson’s case wasn’t straightforward.
The shopkeeper wasn’t charged with basic “making available” under the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Acts that would have found him guilty under the earlier BREIN v Filmspeler case. Instead, he stood accused of two offenses under section 296ZB of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, which deals with devices and services designed to “circumvent technological measures”.
In the end it was all moot. After entering his official ‘not guilty’ plea, last year Thompson suddenly changed his tune. He accepted the prosecution’s version of events, throwing himself at the mercy of the court with a guilty plea.
In October 2017, Teeside Crown Court heard that Thompson cost Sky around £200,000 in lost subscriptions while the shopkeeper made around £38,500 from selling the devices. But despite the fairly big numbers, Judge Peter Armstrong decided to go reasonably light on the 55-year-old, handing him an 18-month prison term, suspended for two years.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that in all the circumstances an immediate custodial sentence is not called for. But as a warning to others in future, they may not be so lucky,” the Judge said.
But things wouldn’t end there for Thompson.
In the UK, people who make money or obtain assets from criminal activity can be forced to pay back their profits, which are then confiscated by the state under the Proceeds of Crime Act (pdf). Almost anything can be taken, from straight cash to cars, jewelry and houses.
During a Proceeds of Crime hearing reported on by Gazette Live, the Court heard that Thompson has no assets whatsoever so any confiscation order would have to be a small one.
In the end, Judge Simon Hickey decided that Thompson should forfeit a single pound, an amount that could increase if the businessman got lucky moving forward.
“If anything changes in the future, for instance if you win the lottery, it might come back,” the Judge said.
This must come as a huge blow to the authorities. The cost and the duration of this case must have been astronomical, just for the defendant to keep his liberty and get fined just £1.00.
Do you sell Android TV Boxes?
Don't end up like "Tomo", there is a better way to sell devices and stay on the right side of the law.