Sky TV questions 'supposed sale' of My Box for $12.5m

A side-controversy as pair wait for verdict in mult-million piracy case.
Krish Reddy (Facebook)

A side-controversy has emerged as Sky TV waits for a verdict in its multi-million piracy case against Matamata company My Box, founded by Krish Reddy.

On Anzac Day, Mr Reddy sent a press release saying My Box had been sold to a Chinese buyer for $12.5 million. The deal was done on Monday, he said. His PR was picked up by Stuff and The NZ Herald.

Late Friday, a Sky TV insider mocked the stories, calling the transaction "the supposed sale."

NBR phoned Mr Reddy but he did not return the call. NBR's questions include whether he can name the buyer, and if he can supply any documentation to prove the sale took place.

The Sky insider adds that, even if there was a sale, it won't affect the outcome of the case.

My Box sells so-called "Kodi" boxes, which can be used to access streams from offshore TV channels that are usually geo-blocked to New Zealanders.

In an earlier phone call with NBR, Mr Reddy claimed to have sold more than 17,000 My Box units.

The Matamata man says that, like a PC or smartphone, a My Box unit is technology neutral. It can be used for good or bad.

Early in the trial process, Lowndes Jordan partner Rick Shera told NBR that the case could hinge on whether My Box was pre-loaded with software designed to actively facilitate copyright infringement.

Mr Reddy refused NBR's request to detail what software was pre-loaded with My Box.

Sky has similar proceedings under way against a second Kodi box importer, Christchurch-based Fibre TV.

Mr Reddy said in his press release that My Box has generated sales outside New Zealand.

Sky notes broadcasters in multiple countries have launched legal action against Kodi box makers and sellers, with a notable crackdown in the UK after a landmark case ended with a guilty plea. Kodi boxes have been a particular pain point for pay-TV broadcasters over live sport. A BBC report says Kodi box use in the UK to watch otherwise paywalled English Premier League games has reached "epidemic" proportions. One estimate holds that one-third of EPL games are now watched via illegal streams.

In New Zealand, a complication is that the Copyright Act (1994) was written before the internet – let alone video streaming from offshore – went mainstream.

The so-called “Global Mode” case in 2015 failed to set a precedent after Orcon (on the verge of being sold to M2, itself on the verge of merging with Vocus) and other defendants threw in the towel and reached a confidential settlement before a case brought by Sky, Spark, MediaWorks and Spark got to court.

The coalition says an updated version of the act could go before Parliament before year's end.

Sky's damages case against My Box wrapped up last month in the Auckland High Court. Judge Warwick Smith reserved his decision. It could be several months until it's delivered.

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