Is Kodi Safe and Legal? What Precautions Should You Take?Last Updated by Joel Timothy on April 07, 2019
Kodi is a free, open-source, powerful media player with a thriving community. It is one of the best around, and it can easily transform your home entertainment thanks to the superb organization and online streaming capabilities.
Its compatibility has supported its emergence, available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Firestick, and more.
However, Kodi has generated a lot of negative publicity in recent years due to copyright infringement. In this article, we tackle many of the safety and legality questions people have.
Streaming on Kodi
Official and third-party (non-official) Kodi add-ons are both available.
Official Kodi Add-ons
Official Kodi add-ons, vetted by the XBMC Foundation; the team behind Kodi, do not in any way promote copyright infringement. They are an extra channel for streaming existing services.
These add-ons mostly require subscriptions, but many are free.
- iPlayer WWW (BBC iPlayer)
- Dailymotion, etc.
Official Kodi add-ons are easy to install and can be found on the official Kodi Add-on Repository.
Third-Party Kodi Add-ons
Third-party Kodi add-ons have not been verified. Apps remain unverified by Kodi when developers don’t submit them for review, or they enable users to stream copyrighted content.
Various developers from all over the world create third-party add-ons, and as the software is open-source, they don’t need to consult Kodi. There are more than a thousand Kodi add-ons available today, and you can use them to stream live sports, live TV, movies, TV shows, music, documentaries, etc.
However, third-party developers don’t own any of the content they provide. Instead, they work by scraping for links online. In most cases, these links are usually illegal, and this is what has contributed to the Kodi legality debate.
Illegal Streaming on Kodi
Content producers and copyright organizations have been working to combat illegal streaming through Kodi, with ISPs, especially in the UK, being instructed to block illegal links. ISPs have also stepped up their monitoring habits, and governments continue to make data retention laws to monitor internet usage and combat copyright infringement.
The law on illegal streaming
The battle against illegal streaming rose to a whole new level when the Digital Economy Act 2017 was passed in the UK. According to the law, anyone using Kodi, torrents, or websites to stream TV shows, films, and sporting events illegally could potentially face up to 10 years behind bars.
However, there have been no arrests concerning Kodi users so far, with most attention directed towards sellers of pre-loaded Kodi boxes.
In most regions including the US, Canada, and Australia, the law is not clear when it comes to streaming copyrighted content. What is clear is that selling and distributing copyrighted material is an infringement of the law, and one can end up facing jail sentences and hefty fines.
Many Kodi users have received DMCA notices for using third-party Kodi Add-ons to stream pirated content. Whenever you stream content, your ISP, copyright organizations, and others can identify your IP address.
Copyright agencies have been keen on protecting their interests and usually forward DMCA notices to ISPs whose IP addresses have been used for illegal streaming. Your ISP can then easily identify you and forward you the DMCA notice and a warning letter.
Pre-loaded Kodi boxes
Pre-loaded or fully-loaded Kodi boxes are Android devices with Kodi and various third-party Kodi add-ons already installed.
Unlike illegal streaming, which remains a grey area, the sale of these boxes is a criminal offense. Sellers have been arrested and charged, paying hefty fines.
Amazon also joined the war and banned the sale of boxes on their platform. Amazon warns that anybody who “promotes, facilitates, or enables” illegal access to copyrighted content will have their accounts suspended. Facebook and other platforms have also made this move.
Is Kodi Legal?
Initially, Kodi doesn’t come with any content or add-ons installed. As standard, it just organizes your local content on a device or local network. It also scans and adds related metadata, i.e., descriptions, posts, covers, etc.
Naturally, the XBMC Foundation has distanced itself from the murky world of third-party Kodi add-ons. In a statement in 2014, and stated, “…Kodi in its unaltered form is perfectly legal, but certain add-ons do blur things.”
The use of third-party add-ons to illegally stream copyrighted content is illegal.
Is Kodi Safe and Secure?
In its own right, Kodi is secure. However, installing various third-party Kodi add-ons as well as repositories is where problems begin to occur.
There are many third-party Kodi add-ons for different purposes. However, none go through any screening process. Any rogue developer can decide to alter code that can compromise the security of your data and device.
Generally, this happens with outdated add-ons. Since Kodi add-ons update automatically, a malicious developer can decide to take advantage, and data theft and malware is common. Therefore, it’s advisable to remove all outdated add-ons and repositories.
In summary, the threats that you face when using Kodi include:
How to use Kodi Safely & Privately
Use a VPN
With using Kodi, you don’t want to have your ISP or any copyright organizations. To hide your activities, you need to use a VPN.
A VPN works by encrypting traffic and facilitating internet access with a remote server. With encryption, third-parties can’t see the data sent or received.
Additionally, the proxy server will spoof your IP address and give you an alternative. Monitoring parties will see the alternative address and not your real one.
For a VPN to work effectively with Kodi they require the following.
- Good speeds
- Zero logs
- Allows P2P traffic
- Unlimited bandwidth
ExpressVPN is excellent for Kodi and it fits the above criteria.
Check out our ExpressVPN Review
NordVPN is also another superb option, and it’s available at a lower price.
Check out our NordVPN Review
A VPN will protect you from Man-in-the-middle attacks as well as help circumnavigate any geo-restrictions.
Use an Antivirus
Combined with a VPN, using an antivirus is another option for avoiding safety threats. An antivirus mostly applies if you have bought a pre-loaded Kodi box. However, you can also use it on any other device to prevent malware from corrupting your data or equipment.
Remove outdated Kodi Add-ons
Finally, ensure that you periodically remove outdated add-ons and repositories as a precaution.
Kodi offers an excellent way of streaming content especially if you’re cord-cutting. However, you need to be careful as it can land you in trouble.
Kodi poses various threats to your device and the local network. Therefore, it’s important to put your safety and that of your family before any entertainment needs.