How Your Amazon Fire TV Stick and Kodi Could Cause Legal Issues
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Kodi and the Amazon Fire TV Stick are two of the most popular ways to consume content at home.

In case you’re not aware, Kodi is a home theater app that acts as a library and management tool for all your media, while the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a streaming device The New Amazon Fire TV Is Cheaper, But Is It Better? The New Amazon Fire TV Is Cheaper, But Is It Better? Amazon has upgraded its media streaming devices, and the all-new Amazon Fire TV (2017) is faster, supports HDR, and yet costs less than its predecessor. So, is there a catch? Read More that provides access to apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

To give you an idea of the numbers, at the time of writing roughly 40 million people use Kodi, and Amazon has sold more than 65 million Fire TV Sticks to date.

However, although users are attracted to both Kodi and the Amazon Fire’s flexibility, they could easily find themselves in hot water if they use these tools for the wrong purposes.

In this article, we’re going to explain what content is legal, what content is illegal, and what falls into the ever-murky “gray area.”

The Piracy Problem

It’s human nature to want something for nothing. As a species, we typically wish to gain maximum reward for minimal effort. And with regard to free entertainment, apps like Kodi and hardware like the Amazon Fire TV encourage the behavior further.

Both ecosystems have developed a reputation for themselves as piracy strongholds. More significantly, both have been happy to let the reputation fester. In the case of Kodi, it’s helped download numbers tremendously. And in the case of the Amazon Fire TV Stick, it’s helped sell units.

amazon fire tv stick and kodi legal issues

Now the problem is reaching pandemic proportions. In November 2017, the Copyright Alliance hosted a panel discussion. One of the speakers was the Senior Vice President of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Neil Fried. According to TorrentFreak he claimed that 26 million of Kodi’s 38 million users regularly used piracy addons. That’s almost 70 percent.

As for the Amazon Fire TV Stick, the device’s brand name has now become part of the world’s vernacular. In the same way as “Netflix and Chill” has taken on its own special meaning, “Firestick that sh*t” now means “download an illegal copy of a movie or TV show and take advantage of the Fire Stick’s impressive flexibility to watch it on your TV.”

Even famous entertainment stars are openly advocating the process. Jamie Foxx recently told chat show host Joe Rogan he might “Firestick that sh*t” if a new movie had poor reviews, while 50 Cent said the Tupac biopic was so bad people should “Catch that sh*t on a firestick [sic].”

The User Trap

From a user perspective, it’s easy to fall into a trap. If even Hollywood actors and famous rappers are condoning piracy of their contemporaries’ work, can it really be that bad?

If you start searching for more information, you’ll quickly enter a world of seemingly legal and widely-used add-ons and apps.

For example, an eBay search for Kodi boxes will reveal an almost endless stream of “Fully Loaded” hardware. Sellers will promise everything from the latest Hollywood movies to top sporting events.

amazon fire tv stick and kodi legal issues

Similarly, there are countless subreddits about getting “free” content onto your Kodi app and Amazon Fire Stick. IPTV-related forums promise thousands of TV channels for as little as $5/month. Kodi repos provide addons for every type of content you can think of. The list goes on.

The piracy issue is now so pervasive that it’s become normalized. But much like the file-sharing apps of the 2000s and the illegal streaming websites of the early-2010s, it’s not here to stay. The authorities are starting to clamp down.

If you want to make sure you stay on the right side of the law How to Use Kodi Without Breaking the Law How to Use Kodi Without Breaking the Law You don't have to break the law to get the most out of your Kodi box. Here's how to make it work without straying over that thin gray line. Read More , you need to know what’s legal and what’s not.

What’s Legal on Kodi and Amazon Fire TV?

Let’s take a closer look at what content is legal on the two platforms.

Firstly, let’s dispel the myth that Kodi is inherently illegal. It isn’t. There is nothing illegal about using the Kodi app or owning a Kodi box What Are Kodi Boxes and Is It Legal to Own One? What Are Kodi Boxes and Is It Legal to Own One? With Kodi boxes becoming increasingly popular, we set out to explain what Kodi boxes are and offer you a definitive answer on their legality. Read More . Similarly, there’s nothing illegal about sideloading Kodi onto your Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Secondly, any add-on that’s part of Kodi’s official repo is entirely legal. The official repo includes apps such as PlayStation Vue, BBC iPlayer, ESPN, ABC Family, Bravo, Crunchyroll, and many more.

amazon fire tv stick and kodi legal issues

Likewise, on an Amazon Fire TV stick, you can be confident that any app in the Amazon Appstore is entirely legal to download and use.

An app’s presence in the Kodi repo or Amazon Appstore doesn’t necessarily mean the addon is created by the content creator (for example, the BBC iPlayer Kodi app is not made by the BBC). However, it does mean that the content within it is legal to watch — assuming you have the correct credentials and live in the appropriate geographic location.

And therein lies the most significant gray area: geo-blocking. If you use a VPN How to Set Up a VPN on an Amazon Fire TV Stick How to Set Up a VPN on an Amazon Fire TV Stick Using a VPN on your Fire TV can have a lot of benefits. Read More or DNS proxy service, it’s possible to watch the BBC iPlayer app from outside the U.K. The same situation applies to countless other video-on-demand providers.

Are you breaking any national laws by accessing the content from outside the intended country? No. But you are breaking each individual company’s licensing agreements and/or terms of use. Technically, the content creator could pursue you in the courts (though there hasn’t yet been an example of such a case).

Finally, an addon or app doesn’t need to be in the Kodi official repo or Amazon Appstore for it to be legal. There are lots of third-party apps that will do everything from playing videos on YouTube to streaming content from Twitch. In the eyes of the courts, they are all safe.

What’s Illegal on Kodi and Amazon Fire TV?

All the illegal content on Kodi and your Amazon Fire TV Stick stems from third-party apps and addons.

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For example, the “Fully Loaded” Kodi boxes we mentioned earlier pull all their content from third-party addons. There is nothing special about the boxes — they are relying on addons that are available to anyone through one of the many Kodi repos.

Clearly, most people should instantly know that a box advertising Hollywood movies and sports events for a one-off fee of a few bucks is never going to be legal. Whether the user sees a moral issue with it is a different topic, but the illegality of the content is not in question.

Users also need to be alert to the dangers of IPTV providers. As mentioned earlier, illegal IPTV is a booming sector. Some “providers” issue their own apps for Kodi and Amazon, while others issue M3U playlists.

amazon fire tv stick and kodi legal issues

There are lots of legal M3U playlist apps on both Kodi and in the Amazon Appstore. As with the Kodi app itself, there is nothing illegal about the apps themselves. The legal issues arise from what you (the user) chooses to populate the apps with.

Ultimately, it all boils down to copyright law Confused About Copyright Law? These Online Resources Can Help Confused About Copyright Law? These Online Resources Can Help It's a confusing subject, yes, but it's important that you wrap your head around it. If you're involved in any sort of creative work, these resources will help you do just that. Read More . If the app you’re watching doesn’t have the permission to use the content it offers, either by using an API or by paying distribution fees to the rights holders, it is breaking the law.

At the moment, the people who use illegal apps have got off lightly. Copyright-holders are pursuing the creators of the Kodi and Amazon apps that provide access to the content and the people who sell the “Fully Loaded” Kodi boxes.

But, just as some regular users were dragged through the courts for using Napster at the turn of the century, so too will some people end up having their lives ruined by losing court battles over the use of such addons.

Don’t believe us? We’ll leave you with the words of Kieron Sharp, the Chief Executive of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). Here’s what he told the Independent newspaper:

“There’s the manufacture and importation of devices, and then the distribution and selling of those. We’re also looking at the people who are providing the apps and addons, the developers.

And then we’ll also be looking at, at some point, the end user. The reason for end users to come into this is that they are committing criminal offenses.”

Do You Watch Illegal Apps and Addons?

As you can see, several legal issues surround Kodi and Amazon Fire TV Sticks.

In the purest sense, what’s legal and what’s illegal is black and white. But in practice, the way legal content is so intertwined with illegal content in repos, app stores, and across the web makes it difficult for an untrained eye to establish the boundaries.

If in doubt, don’t take risks. It’s more sensible to be a smart Kodi and Amazon Fire TV Stick user. Exercise extreme caution and only use your device/app to watch content you are 100 percent sure is legal.

Do you use illegal apps and addons? Have you ever been harassed by legal professionals for your decisions? You can tell us your stories in the comments below!

Image Credit: stevanovicigor/Depositphotos

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  1. chris
    December 3, 2017 at 12:50 am

    "And then we’ll also be looking at, at some point, the end user. The reason for end users to come into this is that they are committing criminal offences."

    FACT need to get the facts right and stick to them if they're to be taken seriously.
    Under the Digital Economy Act (2017) for a criminal offence to have taken place in the UK, it needs to be proved that the accused:
    a) knows or has reason to believe that they are infringing copyright in the work,
    and
    b) either:
    i) intends to make a gain for themselves or another person,
    or
    ii) knows or has reason to believe that communicating the work to the public will cause loss to the owner of the copyright, or will expose the owner of the copyright to a risk of loss.

  2. Lou
    November 28, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Do more research bruh! To sum it up in a nutshell, Peter pays Paul in order for this Kodi thing to work. Someone is paid to allow for his cable/internet to be tapped into. That's how paid content gets out there & in return we the users donate to these guys for their work & to have that option(s) available.

  3. rodney
    November 28, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    You had to write that long of an article to basically say what you wanted in 2 paragraphs....Jesus Christ!

    • Gary Gemmell
      December 8, 2017 at 12:31 am

      Just what i was thinking

  4. Laura stephens
    November 28, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    The only reason they are cracking down is because there is no money going into there pockets. Government and everyone else wants that money from the consumers.

    • Steve
      November 28, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      their pockets, not there pockets

      • Pennywise
        November 28, 2017 at 6:48 pm

        They're pockets

        • Bananalips
          November 28, 2017 at 7:00 pm

          So they are pockets is what you're saying

        • Steve
          November 28, 2017 at 10:32 pm

          No. Its their pockets. Speak english poeple!!

        • Grammar-Cop
          November 29, 2017 at 12:41 am

          @Steve *people - but this offshoot thread is so funny, maybe you did that on purpose.

        • giggety-giggety
          December 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm

          "they'all's" if you are from the south

        • Gary Gemmell
          December 8, 2017 at 12:32 am

          They're is a contraction of they are it is their!
          No wonder the English language has had it - INNIT
          NAW WHAT I MEAN M AN!

  5. Ted Beahl
    November 28, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    All I will say is use a vpn

  6. John Herro
    November 28, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    God has been EXTREMELY good to me and I want to play fair. But I have TONS of conflicting information! Can someone please tell me once and for all if it's OK to sideload Terrarium on my Fire TV box and watch movies and TV epidodes that way?

    • Yolo
      November 28, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      Yeah, bro don't worry, nothing will happen to you, this article is only suppose to confuse and scare users. It's a paid promoted article. The only people who are doing something truly illegal are the websites and apps that host and distribute, as long as you are just streaming then your fine.think of it like this, when the McGregor mayweather fight was on, people watched illegal streams on YouTube, YouTube didn't have any legal action taken on them, the people who streamed the content to others were most likely banned/could have been persued with legal action, and the rest of the people who watch them are all fine because they only streamed from the site, they never downloaded and possessed or distrubuted any content.
      Tldr: no your fine

      Ps: if you don't want throttling from your internet, use a vpn

  7. Ron
    November 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    VPN!!!

    • Mary
      November 28, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Hate to sound clueless, but what is VPN? and how does it work?

      • giggety-giggety
        December 7, 2017 at 8:13 pm

        VPN = plugging your puter into your bum

  8. Steve H
    November 28, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Propaganda. It's obvious that this author is biased and writes a piece to benefit the content owners, but not necessarily an accurate reflection of the legality of the issue. Streaming content is legal from ANY source as long as it is not recorded or downloaded. (In the USA that is, the UK is another matter.)

  9. CG
    November 28, 2017 at 5:10 am

    There is one part of this article that hit the nail right on the head. "If the app you’re watching doesn’t have the permission to use the content it offers, either by using an API or by paying distribution fees to the rights holders, it is breaking the law."

    Depending on where you are from and what the content is this may apply more or less. The person providing the content is the one in violation, not the person receiving it. This includes in some cases the ability to store it as well, again depending on the content (mostly applies to TV that is freely broadcast over the air). Now once you get into items that are sold (premium programming, DVD, blu-ray, etc) the storage aspect becomes illegal, but it is still the provider who is the one in violation. It's not up to the consumer to validate if the provider has the appropriate license to be providing it to them.

  10. Carolyn Eaton
    November 28, 2017 at 3:05 am

    Is the amazon fire stick the same as Netflix stick?

    • Charley B
      November 28, 2017 at 3:59 am

      I have never heard of such a thing as a Netflix Stick.

    • RM
      November 28, 2017 at 5:13 am

      There is no such thing as a "Netflix stick". But you can watch Netflix on the Fire TV Stick.

  11. Christian Short
    November 28, 2017 at 2:09 am

    For one yes this is in black and white as far as law. But copywriting itself is in the word. "COPY" writing. Copywriting started when people would take tape decks for cars or VHS tapes and copy the album/movie onto another tape and have that same "copy". Copywriting now, as far as being illegal, is such a broad statement, no one actually knows what it means. Copywriting today means "Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works". Key word and first word is...? Reproduce. Streaming is not illegal. If it is then ban YouTube and arrest me because I've streamed aLOT of music and funny bits. Is it free? Yes. Is it used everyday? Yes! Are you gonna get rid of it? NO!!!!!

    • Glenn Aiken
      November 28, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Copywriting is the act of branding and marketing under a specific license has nothing to do with actual copying also it's been around way way way longer than vhf and cassette tapes JS

    • Glenn Aiken
      November 28, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      Copywriting has been around way way longer than vhf and cassette tape. Copywriting is the branding and marketing under a specific license has nothing to do with the "copying" of protected content JS

  12. DAVID W COLE
    November 28, 2017 at 2:07 am

    Well. All that comes to mind, they should change the way that they package their satellite and cable services , and lower their prices, that's part of what created the pirating. Today's consumers have been, ripped off of jobs, had wealth stolen by the bankers and wall street and they have mounting debt , just to make ends meet. They feel like they've been taken advantage of, and won't be taken advantage of by the Satellite and cable services. The copyright holders should ease up on their cost and make sure it's passed on to the consumers and not just more profits for satellite and cable provider.

  13. SuckMe
    November 28, 2017 at 2:05 am

    Just get a good VPN and to hell with the snoops who want to dictate what you can and cannot do.

    • Nope
      November 28, 2017 at 3:47 am

      Except you can't get past the URL responders if you use VPN, no?

  14. George
    November 28, 2017 at 12:59 am

    Not here to stay? Hilarious. File sharing and streaming sites never went away. They change names or servers... keep playing whack-a-mole thinking anything will stop people.

    • SuckMe
      November 28, 2017 at 2:15 am

      Pirate Bay been around a long time. Torrents will always exist and a VPN makes anyone untraceable.

  15. likefunbutnot
    November 28, 2017 at 12:41 am

    I've been using Kodi/XBMC for a dozen years and I don't using any illegal streaming. The experience is poor, laggy and disappointing. It requires obnoxious levels of patching and watchfulness and it's just not worth the hassle. That's to say that I'm Copyright Gallant to Fire Stick Goofus, but I've found better ways to see what I want to see than to bother with whatever the addon of the moment might be.

    I'll set it up for other people, but I'll also explain the whole time that it's not as cool as it's cracked up to be.

    • Inkedgeek
      November 28, 2017 at 2:03 am

      You've been using it for a dozen or more years legally yet "the experience is poor"? Why haven't you moved on? I suspect it's because you don't quite understand the definition of the word "legally".

      • likefunbutnot
        November 28, 2017 at 2:16 am

        I said I don't stream content with it, not that I don't have content to watch. Quasi-legal streaming is a drag, not XBMC/Kodi.

    • Stephen Phelan
      November 28, 2017 at 3:21 am

      Could you give a hint on this other choice besides Kodi? Or send me a email? I don't mind doing the research just would like a starting point. Stephenphelan626@gmail.com
      Thanks.

      • likefunbutnot
        November 29, 2017 at 7:42 pm

        @Stephen Phelan, anything I write could conceivably land you in legal trouble and I don't think it's wise to share your email address in such a public setting.

        Rather than offer a fully prescriptive solution, I'd suggest you first investigate and then invest in an effective non-logging VPN provider, then weigh the pros and cons of automation tools like Couch Potato and Sickbeard.

  16. DENNIS OSBORNE
    November 27, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    what's ironic about this article is after reading it and scrolling underneath it or ads for jailbroke Fire Sticks and Android Kodi boxes I guess money is money than matter where it comes from

    • Chitown Boss
      November 28, 2017 at 12:24 am

      LMAO it’s like a paid advertisement, I don’t know why they don’t crack down on all the streaming sites I watch free movies mirrored on,...: wait for it.... my Apple TV !!!!

  17. John
    November 27, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    This article is full of shit. Who paid for it? You don't download any content to a firestick, you stream it. And there are currently no laws regarding streaming, regardless of the source. Streaming a movie though an add-on is akin to borrowing a DVD from a friend. Maybe he stole it from a store. But even if he did, you're not criminally liable if your friend stole it. And as for your Napster example, those were music files being downloaded. That's the Recording Industry Association of America, an entirely different beast.

    At best, streaming movies is a grey area, the morality is which is left to the end user.

  18. LW
    November 27, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Of course we should trust piracy numbers from the MPAA, just as much as we trust Comcast to self-regulate after the repeal of net neutrality by the FCC head (former Verizon employee). Riiiiight. /s

    • Sammy
      November 27, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      Like when I wanted to cancel my phone and tv.....the would deduct 50 dollars from a 175 dollar cable bill.
      A scam.

    • Rickie
      November 28, 2017 at 2:04 am

      I’m calling bullshit! Unless one actually downloads content to keep for future use I don’t see
      Any copyright laws being broken! This is public domain if technology finds a way to bring it to end users then Comcast needs to get over it. All the users are doing is using a device that harnesses public domain signals over airways! Next they will say I have to pay for local channels because now I have a sophisticated antenna to get those channels!!

      • Cooks
        November 28, 2017 at 8:04 am

        Funny u should say that about paying for local channels. I am hearing rumors about it.

        • Kim
          November 28, 2017 at 6:22 pm

          Yep, xfinity charges $7 access fees for local stations.

        • Col_Panek
          December 7, 2017 at 4:22 pm

          My antenna charges zero dollars access to local stations. My VoIP provider charges $5 a month. We've never had cable TV, but we're stuck with cable internet.