Content Cafe


Kiwi court rules against ‘pre-loaded’ set-top boxes

by SKY Television

New Zealand’s SKY Television today welcomed the decision of the Christchurch District Court that marketing claims made by Fibre TV were misleading and deceptive, and that the sale of its ‘pre-loaded’ set-top boxes amounts to copyright infringement.

Pre-loaded boxes are often called ‘Kodi boxes’, because they sometimes use Kodi software platforms. The unlawful aspect is using software plugins or add-ons that enable people to find and stream pirated content.

Using such add-ons, Fibre TV positioned itself as having “all of the content with none of the fees”, including Netflix, SKY movies and a range of sport content. Fibre TV customers paid good money for their boxes, and many would have been led to believe that it was above board.

Judge MacAskill found that the claims were misleading and in breach of the Fair Trading Act and that the sale of the boxes breached copyright.

“It is great to have this matter clarified, as we were concerned that New Zealanders were buying these boxes under the false impression that they were legit – it simply wasn’t true,” said SKY Television’s general counsel Sophie Moloney.

“Piracy is an ongoing problem for everyone in the content and creative sectors. Recent research shows that almost a third of New Zealanders are pirating, some as regularly as weekly, with one in ten saying it’s the way they ‘normally’ access content.

“It also found that 3% of New Zealanders are regularly using pirate streaming devices (or Kodi boxes or Kodi software) to access TV, movies and sport. That’s over 100,000 Kiwis, some of whom will have been duped into believing it was legitimate because of the marketing promises made by suppliers like Fibre TV.”

Pirate streaming devices are a growing problem around the world, but courts and lawmakers in many jurisdictions are taking steps like the decision from Judge MacAskill this week.

The court will now consider next steps for the Fibre TV promoters and their boxes and SKY will participate in that process and await the decision.

“In the meantime, we just want to highlight to New Zealanders that ‘Kodi boxes’ like the Fibre TV ones breach copyright and do not have a legitimate place in our market,” Moloney said.

“There are so many ways to access legal content in New Zealand these days – on SKY, Lightbox, Netflix, TVNZ On Demand, ThreeNow, NEON, FAN PASS and FAN PASS Mobile, to name a few.”

“There is really no excuse not to watch it legally. Our hope is that New Zealanders will want to play fair and respect and value the people (be they actors, camera crew or All Blacks) who create the amazing content we want to keep seeing on our screens.”