This week the world looked on in horror as a huge London tower block burned with residents still inside. Just a day later, a headline in UK tabloid The Sun declared “Kodi Boxes” a fire hazard and a risk to public safety. Was that awful timing? Cautionary advice? Or flat-out anti-piracy opportunism?
Anyone who saw the pictures this week couldn’t have failed to be moved by the plight of Londoners caught up in the Grenfell Tower inferno. The apocalyptic images are likely to stay with people for years to come and the scars for those involved may never heal.
As the building continued to smolder and the death toll increased, UK tabloids provided wall-to-wall coverage of the disaster. On Thursday, however, The Sun took a short break to put out yet another sensationalized story about Kodi. Given the week’s events, it was bound to raise eyebrows.
“HOT GOODS: Kodi boxes are a fire hazard because thousands of IPTV devices nabbed by customs ‘failed UK electrical standards’,” the headline reads.
“It’s estimated that thousands of Brits have bought so-called Kodi boxes which can be connected to telly sets to stream pay-per-view sport and films for free,” the piece continued.
“But they could be a fire hazard, according to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), which has been nabbing huge deliveries of the devices as they arrive in the UK.”
As the image below shows, “Kodi box” fire hazard claims appeared next to images from other news articles about the huge London fire. While all separate stories, the pairing is not a great look.
FACT chief executive Kieron Sharp told The Sun that his group had uncovered two parcels of 2,000 ‘Kodi’ boxes and found that they “failed electrical safety standards”, making them potentially dangerous. While that may well be the case, the big question is all about timing.
It’s FACT’s job to reduce copyright infringement on behalf of clients such as The Premier League so it’s no surprise that they’re making a sustained effort to deter the public from buying these devices. That being said, it can’t have escaped FACT or The Sun that fire and death are extremely sensitive topics this week.
That leaves us with a few options including unfortunate opportunism or perhaps terrible timing, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt for a moment.
There’s a good argument that FACT and The Sun brought a valid issue to the public’s attention at a time when fire safety is on everyone’s lips. So, to give credit where it’s due, providing people with a heads-up about potentially dangerous devices is something that most people would welcome.
However, it’s difficult to offer congratulations on the PSA when the story as it appears in The Sun does nothing – absolutely nothing – to help people stay safe.