Kodi was launched on June 29th 2004. It is a free and open-source media player available in the form of a software application. Kodi was developed by XBMC Foundation and made the software available for multiple OS (operating systems) and hardware platforms.
About 12 million people use Kodi (legally).
Why is Kodi so Popular?
Kodi is undoubtedly a streaming giant as it has the ability to transform and convert almost all types of devices into state-of-the-art media centres. Users have declared Kodi several times that it is the best media player they ever had the chance to use by far.
The majority of the media players in the past relied upon streaming content from the local storage of the device they are installed upon. Media playing software available to stream online videos were not efficient and compatible with a lot of devices, browsers, apps, and several IoTs.
However, Kodi changed everything ass it not only facilitated streamers to stream content from their local storage, but also it works seamlessly to stream online videos, movies, anime, & TV shows (via various add-ons). Kodi can be equipped with many add-ons to access almost any type of streaming content from the internet.
Nowadays, people have Kodi installed on almost everything, ranging from Amazon Fire TV Stick, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Roku, Chromecast, Raspberry Pi, and more. However, all of this comes at a price.
Since, Kodi lets you stream all types of content online including copyrighted content for free, the use of Kodi and its numerous add-ons have raised the debate of Kodi’s legality, safety, and problems associated with it.
Legality of Kodi | Is Kodi Legal to Use?
As there are no clear laws, rules, & regulations for streaming copyrighted content anywhere in the world, the legality of using Kodi to stream free licensed copyrighted content is unclear.
If we take a look at Kodi without the usage of its add-ons, it is not just an amazing software but also legal to use. All the major platforms like Google Play Store, Microsoft Store, etc. play host to Kodi and have its application available for download.
But once Kodi has been downloaded by a user, several add-ons are compatible with Kodi and help in streaming copyrighted content completely for free. This is where a user can be targeted and receive a notice on streaming illegal content.
The laws about streaming licensed/copyrighted content for free are pretty clear. Those entities who store and distribute copyrighted content are criminals in the eyes of law. However, people who watch free content online are not specifically termed criminals by law, but they can get in trouble if a censor board or law authority feels like sending them a notice.
When a customer buys or uses Kodi, no add-ons are installed on it, also it does not come with any pre-stored content. Once Kodi is installed, it automatically picks up and collect media files from the local storage area of your device and organizes them accordingly.
So, the only major issue or the legal debate with the Kodi platform comes when it is altered or when dodgy add-ons are added to it.
Kodi Add-on Repository | Kodi Plugins | Are Kodi Add-ons Legal?
A Kodi user can find hundreds of Kodi plugins, also called Kodi add-ons via repositories where multiple add-ons are hosted. The function of these add-ons is to allow users to get access to free and licensed content online without any hassle or hurdle.
Official & Legal Kodi Add-ons
An official Kodi plugin repository is called Kodi Add-on Repository. It is an official store that has a huge collection of legal Kodi add-ons which either gives you access to free content on public domains like YouTube, or you can use those add-ons to watch subscription-based content on sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, etc.
Illegal Kodi Add-ons
So, if a Kodi user goes on to get an add-on via their official plugin site, the issue of legality is nothing to worry about. However, once a plugin or add-on is used or installed on Kodi from any dodgy website that claims to give users access to free streaming of copyrighted content, then this can cause a legal issue.
Dodgy add-ons mostly source out their content from pirated IPTV streams, torrents, and unlicensed resources. The add-ons are not submitted by the developers for review and approval by official Kodi platforms as the agenda is to stream copyrighted content for free (and Kodi obviously will not allow this to happen because of legal reasons).
The reason why these add-ons do not go through the process of consultation with Kodi is that Kodi is open-source software and everyone can & has access to it. That’s why, every day several Kodi add-ons are released by third parties to help Kodi users stream movies, TV shows, live sports events, music, documentaries, etc. for free.
These third-party developers do not have any ownership rights to the content getting streamed via their add-ons. They scrape links from the internet, utilize them illegally, and thus deliver it to their users. That’s the crux of Kodi’s legality debate.
Streaming licensed content for free is illegal, but the practical implementation of law varies from country to country.
Concept of Illegal Streaming on Kodi?
Organizations that look over copyright infringements work day and night to battle blocking illegal links. Content producers launch effective strategies so that their content is not streamed illegally via Kodi Add-ons.
The blocking of illegal links is mostly done via ISPs who are instructed by the governments to block all dodgy streaming links containing copyrighted content. The UK government keeps on making data retention laws for monitoring usage of bandwidth, internet usage, and most used streaming platforms to pinpoint law breaking websites & their partners.
Laws against Illegal Streaming
With more content being produced every day, the practice of that content getting streamed illegally is increasing. As per this problem, a Digital Economy Act 2017 was passed in the UK where the law stated that all Kodi users who stream movies, TV shows, live events, and torrents illegally can face up to 10 years in jail.
Until then, strict actions have been taken against people who are selling pre-loaded Kodi boxes, storing pirated content, and distributing copyrighted material on their websites. However, no action has been taken against a Kodi user.
Issues with Pre-loaded Kodi Boxes
Providers who sell pre-loaded Kodi boxes are considered criminals and the activity is termed as an infringement of law. Several sellers have been arrested and paid fines for it.
Pre-loaded Kodi boxes are Android devices that have Kodi and third-party add-ons pre-installed on them. Amazon has discouraged the selling of these fully-loaded Kodi boxes and has banned the sales of boxes on their platform.
Amazon has stated,
“Anybody who ‘promotes, enables, or facilitates’ illegal access to copyrighted content will get their accounts suspended.”
Notices Issued by the DMCA
DMCA is short for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Act was made in 1998 by the United States copyright law that works on implementing the two treaties of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) from 1996.
The law act on Digital Rights Management (DRM):
“Criminalizing the dissemination and production of devices, services, or technology intending to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works”
How a person receives DMCA notices? Your local ISP (internet service provider) can identify the IP address of their clients and even a few copyright organizations have tech that works on collecting IP addresses of those people who stream illegal content online.
Agencies working on protecting copyrighted content works tirelessly and forward DMCA notices to ISPs. Those notices are then delivered to those clients by ISPs who are using Kodi to stream illegal content online. Initially, they send a warning letter and if that particular IP address is still being used to stream illegal content, then your ISP will forward a DMCA notice.
Note: Kodi users who utilize unofficial third-party Kodi Add-ons to stream pirated content regularly receive DMCA notices via their ISPs.
Is Kodi Safe? | Is Kodi a Security Risk?
Kodi itself is safe and the add-ons found on the official Kodi repositories are secure. There is not even a slight chance of security risk when you are streaming content online legally.
However, when you are streaming free copyrighted content with dodgy Kodi add-ons, the risks are high as there is no guarantee of security with those add-ons. Third-party add-ons are not screened by Kodi and are not updated regularly.
If a developer (or hacker) sitting somewhere in the world changes the code of that Kodi add-on, it can cause a massive security risk. Criminal activities like data theft, the addition of malware & malicious software, ISP snooping, and attacks like Man-in-the-middle can take place with these rouge add-ons.
The attacks of Man-in-the middle and ISP snooping occur when data is in transmission. When a user is streaming content online, an attacker can intercept that data and use it to introduce malware & malicious software.
Kodi can be protected against these kinds of attacks via a VPN. Virtual Private Networks encrypt your internet traffic and cipher it with 256-bit AES encryption (which is a military grade encryption standard). Not even super computers can decipher the coding done via 256-bit. The best VPN so far for Kodi is PureVPN.
Remember, not all VPNs work seamlessly with Kodi, and you need to get a premium VPN like ExpressVPN, PureVPN, NordVPN, & Surfshark VPN to make your Kodi safe and secure. Some of the major Best Kodi VPNs are as follow.