OPINION: It is unfair to accuse Sky Television of bullying just because it is taking legal action against two distributors of Kodi internet television boxes.

Whether the legal action will prove effective is a different matter.

Sky is suing Hamilton company My Box and Christchurch firm FibreTV NZ.

The legality of media players and Kodi software is not in dispute.

But Way says the companies have been selling devices with software add-ons that are configured to point buyers to streams of pirated television content, and promoted them as a way for people to watch pay-TV programmes for free.

That includes shows for which Sky has the New Zealand broadcasting rights, Sky has alleged; in the case of My Box, Game of Thrones and Black Caps cricket matches.

My Box estimates it has sold between 8000 and 9000 Kodi boxes to Kiwi consumers.

My Box and FibreTV NZ have said they are doing nothing illegal and that it is up to consumers how they use the devices.

But if the facts prove to be as Sky TV has claimed, then it is difficult to see how it could turn a blind eye and not test the legalities in Court.

There's room for disagreement about what is the fairest way to distribute television entertainment and sports content.

But condoning technology that allows some people to get a free ride while a dwindling pool of people pay for programmes is never going to be a good answer.

Sky TV was previously accused of bullying when it joined with Spark, MediaWorks and Television New Zealand in bringing legal action against Global Mode creator Bypass Network Services and CallPlus in 2015.

CallPlus owns the Slingshot and Orcon internet brands.

Global Mode helped their customers disguise the location of their computers, so they could sign up to the US version of Netflix and other foreign internet television services in breach of their terms and conditions.

CallPlus chief executive Mark Callander initially brushed off the lawsuit, saying the four television companies were "trying to bully the smaller guys to prevent New Zealand catching up with the rest of the world".

But months later newly under the ownership of Australian firm M2, which was about the same size as Sky TV CallPlus suddenly caved and withdrew the service. That was before Global Mode could be tested in court. So much for the "bullying" claim.

Global Mode had the saving grace that consumers would have been paying a subscription to watch the foreign television services they signed up to.

It could be argued Global Mode was a stepping stone that helped ensure Kiwi consumers weren't ignored by the likes of Netflix, which later launched a version of its service in New Zealand.

But Kodi boxes are frequently advertised with the promise that buyers will face no ongoing charges for watching premium television and sports.

There have been court cases overseas. Last year, British man Terry O'Reilly was jailed for four years for supplying 1000 Kodi boxes to pubs that used them to display Premier League football matches.

So far, Sky TV is fighting the legal battle against Kodi boxes in New Zealand alone, but Spark, at least, appears sympathetic.

Spokesman Richard Llewellyn said it had "yet to form a view on the use of these boxes, but we do note there are questions about their legality".

"In contrast, we believe there's a number of content providers offering legitimate viewing choices in New Zealand," he said.

Way says there are five or six big distributors of Kodi boxes in New Zealand, but they are easily obtained from overseas over the internet.

The company behind Kodi has begun discouraging companies from adding on the software that points to infringing TV streams.

But completely eliminating problem Kodi boxes from the market would appear a near impossible task.

If that proves to be the case, the focus will shift further towards trying to shut down websites hosting copyright-infringing material that they access.

But that also could prove a game of wackamole.

The last resort may be for pay-TV companies to make an example out of a few consumers who may be innocently using these devices, having taken assurances that they are legal at face value.

It is in no-one's interest that it comes to that.