As Richard Branson said “Business opportunities are like buses. There’s always another coming along.” Looking at the online piracy world, the latest bus is exploiting software media centers. And unfortunately, many consumers are being taken for a ride.

I’ve mentioned it before, online pirates are undoubtedly criminals. Yet they’re also entrepreneurs. The pirates are continually adapting. To effectively fight online piracy means keeping up to date with their latest activities. One of the trends which the Irdeto cyber-services team has been monitoring for a while is the increasingly popular use of software media centers as a means to supply illegal content.

Ease of use is attractive to everyone 
Let me use Kodi as an example. Kodi, formerly XMBC, is probably one of the most used pieces of entertainment software. Put simply, Kodi is open-source software that can turn any computer into a media streaming device. It allows consumers to stream, download and access content either from the Internet or other local device. It has the ability to run Third Party plugins, or add-ons. And by its open-source nature it’s permissible to design add-ons and build your own applications. What’s more, it is very easy to use with user forums for any questions. Not only is this attractive to genuine developers but also pirates.

Blurring the lines 
In its unaltered state Kodi is legal. However, many pirates are exploiting its open nature to create add-ons that are used to supply illegal content to consumers. Pirates are advertising different levels of access to content: free and paid, as well as “fully loaded” boxes.

To give you an idea, one paid pirate package offers 2189 channels including movies and TV series. There is content from across the globe. It is also possible to take the sports package. This offers you 646 channels of premium sport.

It’s proving to be a money spinning opportunity for the pirates. Not so for Kodi. This non-profit consortium’s brand is now being negatively affected by association. And not so for the content owners, broadcasters and operators whose content is being stolen by the online pirates.

Stop the bus I want to get off 
The key to fighting this type of online piracy is strong investigation and enforcement capabilities. It’s about more than just detecting that it’s there. For content owners, broadcasters and operators to protect their investments and brand reputation, it’s essential that they are able to identify the real person behind the online piracy and take necessary action.

It relies on the expertise, knowledge and experience of trained investigators aligned with local law enforcement activities. Admittedly, it’s not always possible to have such a multi-disciplined team within your own organization. But with a managed service approach such skills can complement your existing activities.

As you can see from this example pirates don’t stand still. They are always looking for the next bus to come along.