A full HD home entertainment setup is incomplete without Kodi. In the last few years, the volume of Kodi users has surged exponentially and this all happened despite the ire of the big players of the industry. But, a question quite hiked a couple of years back is still giving nightmares to Kodi users and that is, Is Kodi legal and safe to use? In other words, Is Kodi illegal or as a long-time Kodi user, should you worry about any legal issues?
If you too have the same question, this article is your perfect landing on the web. So once for all, at Dinno we want to address the Kodi-linked legal trouble, based on the facts and put a big full stop to your nightmares.
But, before we go ahead and sort out the dilemma, let’s understand what Kodi actually is. This is for you if you have stumbled this article and now getting curious about Kodi. But, of course, you can hop on to your preferred section from the below content box.
What is Kodi?
Kodi was not always Kodi. It took several transitions during two decades to reach this stage. At its inception, the piece of software was called Xbox Media Player and initiated by two coders. It was developed for Xbox. Later, a media player YAMP (Yet Another Media Player) was merged into Xbox Media Player and YAMP’s developer joined the team. The source code of Xbox Media Player was made public in October 2002. But, in December 2003 the software was left abandoned by its developers.
Thanks to the source code that was already available in the public domain. The geeks from all over the world were already working with the source code as a base application and by the time the Xbox Media Player was found to be left out by its developers, its successor was ready to get launched. This successor got a new name XBox Media Center (XBMC). The first stable release of XMBC 2.0.0 was announced in September 2006. And finally, it was renamed to what we know today, Kodi.
What Kodi does?
To put it simply, Kodi is a standalone application & software media player, but definitely not an ordinary one. What stands it out from the crowd is its ability to turn your computer, mobile or tablet into a set-top box or a node for streaming content from the internet. With Kodi, you can play any media file lying on your local hard drive and on the local network. On top of that, Kodi multimedia player is available for all operating systems and devices. You can also stream your favorite content without issues from various streaming services’ pool of content.
This leads us to the fact that Kodi is not a streaming service and it does not host any digital content. But with Kodi, you can access copyright-free content and subscription-based content from the internet.
What is Firestick?
A firestick is a pen drive shaped (a little bulkier) device which can convert any display device having an HDMI port into a full-fledged smart tv. With the firestick, you get an adapter for the power supply and a remote. This device is developed by the eCommerce gorilla Amazon Inc. Firestick comes preloaded with an app store from Amazon as well and this store consists of various apps just like an android store or an apple store.
How to install Kodi on Firestick?
Amazon has its own app store for firestick & fire tv and Kodi was also placed in the official Amazon store. However, due to various reasons (shared later in this article), Amazon withdrew the Kodi app in June 2015. So, currently, the Kodi app is not available in the Amazon app store. This means that there is no official way to install Kodi on the firestick, however, there is a way out.
Installing Kodi on the firestick involves three steps. Let’s go through each step one by one in detail, to install Kodi on your firestick.
1) Install the Downloader app
a) On the home screen of your firestick, can you see Find in the menu bar. Select it.
b) Select Search
c) Here search for downloader. From the results, select the Downloader.
d) Select the Downloader app shown on the screen
e) Click the download button beside Get.
2) Tweak your firestick for Kodi Installation
In this second step we will tweak the firestick for Kodi installation
a) Can you locate the settings icon on the menu bar. Yes, on the extreme right. Hit it.
b) Click My Fire Tv
c) Select Developer Options
d) Select Install unknown apps
e) Switch it ON for the Downloader app
f) Click Home button on your remote and once again select Settings icon
g) Select Preferences
h) Select Privacy Settings
i) Here switch OFF the Device Usage Data and Collect App Usage Data
Now we are ready to install Kodi
3) Install the Kodi app
a) Open the downloader app and click in the text field to enter the URL
b) With the keypad that has appeared on your screen, type in the URL kodi.tv and click Go to get Kodi web page.
c) Now Kodi webpage has opened. Can you see the red circle? Use your remote as your mouse and this circle will follow along. Scroll down till you see the operating systems. Select Android over here.
d) Once again scroll down and select the android
e) Select ARM 32BIT
f) Kodi download in progress
g) Hit install
h) Installation in progress
i) Wait, till you see the installation confirmation message.
j) Delete the downloaded file. This file is not of use anymore and only adds up to the storage.
k) Confirm Delete
Done. The latest official version of Kodi is now installed on your preferred device firestick and you can access the public domain content.
Is Kodi Legal and Safe to Use?
For quite a long time Kodi’s name has been dragged more than enough in the controversies of being involved in illegal internet activity. You can understand the severity of the allegations from just one example that Amazon had to withdraw the Kodi app from its store in June 2015. To justify its action, Amazon blamed Kodi for serving illegal content.
So, how far that is true.
Is Kodi really involved in any legality issues? And how safe your online privacy is when using Kodi for online activity.
The boolean answer to the above all controversies and question of legality is a big NO. Kodi is in no way involved in any illegal online activity.
Kodi is free and open-source software (FOSS), which means its source code is publicly available as a git repository for scrutiny from any Govt. agency or coder around the globe. And no one has ever found a single piece of code within the Kodi source code for legal violations. This means that a fresh installation of Kodi is a safe application and there are no copyright laws violations.
Also, Kodi does not host any video to serve its users. It simply plays the content passed to it from your local storage/network or from the web. This means that hosting or streaming of copyright content from Kodi also gets dumped.
So, how this all illegal fuss started with Kodi?
To understand it, let’s see the legal violation with any torrent software. As you know that using torrent software is not illegal but what you upload/download content through torrents is the grey area. Just like that, using Kodi is not illegal but if you use Kodi to access and stream unauthorized content, you are attracting copyright violations.
Once again, If you are streaming a licensed content for which you have taken a subscription or access a favorite content that is copyright-free, you are not doing any violation. But if you access an unlicensed content or an unauthorized content then it’s not a lawful content and attracts trouble.
Can you access the unlicensed & non-subscribed streaming content from Kodi as well?
Yes, and here starts all the legal controversies with the innocent Kodi.
Kodi is quite a versatile free and open-source software (foss). However, all around the globe, Kodi has been accused of illegally streaming the paid content. This all havoc has its root to a single reason and that is, Kodi is a foss. Being foss has it’s quite great advantages for any software like anyone can contribute to its development. But there is a dark side as well.
Let’s see that.
Kodi extends its wings with the help of its add-ons and there is Kodi’s official add-on repository as well which consists of hundreds of add-ons. This Kodi add-on repository contains small utilities that extend the functionalities of Kodi.
These add-ons are contributed by various coders around the world after following the Kodi add-on guidelines and then it is submitted for a review. Once passed, the add-on gets a place in the official Kodi repository. Even in their add-on guidelines, Kodi has explicitly mentioned that the add-on should not violate any copyright laws.
This means that a fresh Kodi installation with official Kodi add-ons is not the culprit.
Yes, now you are getting it.
Being foss, anyone can develop a Kodi add-on. But, the official Kodi repository is not the only place from where you can install the Kodi add-on. Yes, just like other softwares, Kodi has also permitted various ways for add-on installation. You can install an add-on from a zip file or from a development repo URL like git. You can also create their own repo from which users can install the add-on.
These add-ons which are not from the official Kodi repo are called 3rd party add-ons and some of these third-party add-ons have created this huge mess of legality for Kodi.
The culprit add-ons let you access the paid-to-stream content without paying anything to streaming services. And that’s where the grey area of allegations for Kodi, to stream the content illegally, erupts.
If you are using the add-ons from the official Kodi repo, there is nothing to worry about. Also, there are some great 3rd party addons to extend Kodi’s functionality. Don’t miss them out. Just make sure that you pick safe addons which don’t challenge the legality of streaming.
Illegal Streaming Devices
Kodi is a very popular and powerful home theater foss. While it’s free for installation on any platform or device on the planet, the XBMC does not manufacture any device that is pre-loaded with Kodi. Yes, that’s true.
Then what is this Kodi box? I bet you must have seen or heard about the Kodi box.
Users involved within the grey area install Kodi along with the notorious 3rd party add-ons on specially designed and manufactured hardware devices. These devices are Kodi boxes. These are even marketed with the trademark of Kodi on it.
There are many variants of such devices and are called illegal streaming devices or illicit streaming devices.
Some 3rd party add-ons & illicit streaming devices have been providing a huge volume of paid streaming content to Kodi users for free. This has raged the streaming industry against Kodi.
XBMC’s Stand on Illegal Streaming through Kodi
Despite all the controversies, Kodi seems to be very clear and on its stand. And that is they are foss, so they can not stop someone from developing an add-on for Kodi. But, Kodi has also made it clear several times that they are against any piracy and illegal streaming of copyright content for free. Kodi has opposed the coders who earn money by developing such add-ons. After all these developers and add-ons have tainted the name and respect of Kodi.
Also, in the latest version 19.0 Matrix, several 3rd party add-ons are not functioning. This is seen as a move by the Kodi team to deal with the notorious 3rd party add-ons, but it is still just an opinion.
Actions Taken Against the Illegal Streaming
In the EU, the Digital Economy Act 2017 had passed to decrease the volume of illegal streaming of copyright content. And this seemed to work as well. Kodi itself shared an article mentioning that now the piracy box (the so-called Kodi box) and piracy streaming are now illegal in the EU.
Amazon and eBay are cracking down on the sellers and removing all the piracy devices from their stores.
But, copyright laws vary from country to country. While Canada has been fighting piracy for a long, Singapore has buckled it up only recently.
While Kodi is free and installing it is very much legal, its 3rd party add-ons may get you in trouble. Be safe and access only the copyright-free content or the one whose subscription you have paid for. Kodi is legal but watching copyright content for free on Kodi is not.