UK: Modified Set-Top Boxes And Copyright Infringement Where Do We Stand?

In an important decision for rights holders everywhere, on 26 April 2017, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruled that the sale of multimedia devices that have been modified to allow end users to stream pirated content is itself an act which can breach copyright law. Streaming of this content (as opposed to downloading) is also now a breach of copyright law according to the CJEU. The CJEU emphasised the amount of investment made by content creators, artists and producers when creating their works and, in coming to its decision, stressed the need for legal protection of these rights to ensure “satisfactory returns on this investment”. We examine the decision in Filmspeler (C-527/15) in further detail below before considering the wider issues in relation to these “pre-loaded” devices which have been attracting the attention of UK industry bodies (such as the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)) for some time.