Streaming sites are essentials for almost everyone. Between Netflix, Hulu, and Disney +, you are able to watch a plethora of shows and movies at your fingertips at any time. But what do you do when none of your paid subscribed streaming services have what you want to watch? That’s where other streaming services, sometimes free, come into play. Kodi has been considered to be one of those free services, although that’s not what its intended purpose was.
Technically, it’s open-source software that houses all your media and lets you manage your collection. Those that have been around a while might recognize this as the old Xbox Media Center or XBMC. Kodi can be downloaded on just about any platform including your cell phone from your app store. While the app itself isn’t illegal, there are add-ons that make it illegal.
Kodi becomes illegal once you start downloading certain add-ons to it. Add-ons by nature aren’t illegal but that depends on the type. For example, you can download add-ons for Kodi such as Youtube or SoundCloud, both of which are perfectly safe and legal. However, many already have separate apps for those and usually aren’t looking for those types of add-ons when using Kodi.
Typically, people are downloading add-ons that will allow you to stream pirated content for free. This method is similar to torrenting. You download copyrighted material through the torrent client and while this is illegal, having the torrent client itself is not illegal.
Recently Kodi has been at the forefront for some lawsuits but it hasn’t caught up to individuals yet. This is slowly starting to change as more users try and profit off add-ons that can be added onto Kodi. A certain case in the UK involved someone selling Kodi boxes. Kodi boxes are legal, but with all the extra add-ons already preloaded onto them, the legality became questionable. The person selling them claimed this was a legal practice and was making money off selling them to local bars in the area but ultimately was fined for selling copyrighted media.
Legality for streaming copyrighted media differs depending on the country you are in. The UK and EU, for example, passed a law regarding the streaming of copyrighted material. This made it illegal to not only purchase Kodi boxes but also you can face jail time for up to 10 years for even streaming any copyrighted content that you have not purchased. While there haven’t been any punishments yet for those that are using it, the threat is still there.
In the US and Canada, the laws are a little bit trickier. Both have copyright laws but there isn’t anything specific to Kodi like the UK has implemented. Downloading and keeping copyrighted materials without paying for them is illegal regardless if it’s for personal use or not, but streaming the content is not currently illegal. Since add-ons that are streaming the copyrighted content are essentially just a search engine to find the content on another site and then stream it, it’s not considered storing. This is what makes it legal and not able to be pursued by the law. The US is trying to take steps and in the future may start punishing those who stream copyrighted media.
As a result of the laws and court cases that are opening up due to the use of using Kodi illegally, Amazon has taken it upon themselves to outright ban the sale of all loaded Kodi boxes. Amazon is even going as far as to suspend the accounts of users that are selling them in an effort to separate themselves from being a middleman to potentially breaking the law.
While streaming illegal content isn’t condoned, there’s going to be many of you out there that will do it regardless. If you do plan on using Kodi for its unintended purpose or any other IPTV service, then you’re going to want to invest in a good VPN, especially if you are from a country where streaming is illegal. A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a connection method that adds anonymity and security to your private or public network.
This means you will be able to hide your location, change your IP address, hide your IP address, access websites your government may have banned, and encrypt your data transfers. The reason you might want to invest in this is that certain countries like the US allow ISPs to track, store, and share what you are doing online at any given time. A VPN will make what you do untraceable.
In short, Kodi itself is not an illegal application and even downloading the add-ons that host copyrighted content isn’t illegal but streaming it, depending on your location, can be illegal. While it’s not condoned by Kodi or even myself to stream illegal content, if you plan to do so then do it smartly with getting a VPN or you can look into trying out another IPTV service. Overall, take a look into your country’s piracy and streaming content laws before deciding on what you think the best service for you is.