Law enforcement are stepping up anti-piracy efforts. As part of a new bid to shutdown illegal streaming, police have started to broadcast warnings on internet channels they’ve already seized – beaming the latest threats to pirates directly into the homes of laptop, IPTV set-top box and so-called Kodi Box owners nationwide.

The new ploy was discovered when viewers of a popular IPTV stream, known as Global Entertainment, were confronted with a warning from two police services across the UK, telling them their IP address had been recorded. IP addresses are unique numbers that are linked with your online activity – they can also be traced to specific locations.

The warning message states: “This illegal stream has been seized By Norfolk and Sussex Police. Watching illegal broadcasts is a crime. Your IP address has been recorded. You are instructed to cease and desist immediately from all illegal media streaming.”

Despite some chatter online, the message was a fake to enable the team behind Global Entertainment to close the livestream and quietly leave with subscribers money, Suffolk Police have confirmed the notice is genuine – and part of a new strategy to clampdown on piracy.

In a statement, Suffolk Police said: “During the warrant, officers were able to access and disrupt the online platform, disable the suspected illegal streams and deliver an on-screen message to those who receive them warning that the content accessed is suspected to be unlawful. Officers are aware that speculation is circulating online stating that the on-screen message is a ‘hack’. However, recipients should be clear that this is a genuine police operation.”

Officers haven’t revealed exactly what they plan to do with the IP addresses recorded as people attempt to tune-in to the channel.

This is the first time that police have used a seized digital broadcast channel as a way to issue a warning to other pirates. Whether this is more effective than previous anti-piracy warnings – like letters issued to Sky and BT broadband subscribers who were found to be downloading torrents at home – remains to be seen.

Previous research from BroadbandGenie has revealed almost a fifth (18 percent) of UK streaming users admit to accessing TV shows and movies using unauthorized streaming or file sharing sites.

So-called Kodi Boxes, which leverage the free media player software – called Kodi – to access streams of paid-for channels and on-demand for free, have become increasingly popular as more and more favour streaming over downloads. Other software options, which typically fall under the broader category of “IPTV” devices are also increasingly popular in the UK.

It’s worth pointing out that it is illegal to watch a stream of anything that you should be paying for – whether that’s on your laptop, mobile phone, or using a set-top box, like so-called Kodi Boxes, or torrents. Downloading and streaming (which is essentially temporarily downloading to your machine) are the same offence. Despite what some still mistakenly believe, there is no legal “grey area” around streaming rather than downloading.