Set-top box seller Malcolm Mayes ordered to pay £250,000

Kodi menu screen Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Mayes sold devices that can access subscription content for free

A businessman who sold "fully loaded" set-top boxes to pubs and clubs, enabling them to watch subscription TV for free, must pay £250,000.

Malcolm Mayes, from Hartlepool, admitted breaching the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act by advertising and selling adapted IPTV boxes.

The 65-year-old must pay £170,000 costs and an £80,000 Proceeds of Crime Order was imposed by Teesside Crown Court.

Two 10-month prison sentences were suspended for a year.

Mayes sold the boxes - often referred to as "Android" or "Kodi" boxes - to pubs and clubs across the country for £1,000 each and advertised the devices as "100% legal".

'Not Robin Hood'

While the boxes themselves are not illegal, they were modified with software allowing users to screen pay-to-view TV free of charge as well as stream pirated film and television programmes.

He was prosecuted by Hartlepool Borough Council's Trading Standards department, which tested one of the boxes and found it to be "fully loaded".

Ian Harrison, Trading Standards manager, said: "In pleading guilty, he has accepted it is illegal to sell a device that allows the free viewing of pay-to-view television.

"Mr Mayes should not be seen as a Robin Hood-type character.

"In selling these devices he wasn't stealing from the rich to help the poor. He was stealing to make himself richer."

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) recently described tackling the sale of so-called "fully loaded boxes" a "top priority".

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