Entertainment Technology Explained

Is Kodi Legal? Why You Should Care

Dan Price 18-03-2019

Kodi is never far from the headlines. Although its developers originally intended the software to be a home theater app, today the name is synonymous with illegal streaming. People use Kodi to stream live sports, movies, and TV shows. So, is Kodi legal in the US? Let’s take a look.


Yes, the Kodi App Itself Is Legal

We’re not going to make you read an entire article to find out the answer. The Kodi app—on all the platforms on which it is available—is entirely legal to download, install, and use.

Consider this: if the app were illegal, you almost certainly wouldn’t find it on Google Play and the App Store.

The illegality of Kodi arises not from the app itself, but from the way in which some people use the app. We’re going to look at both sides of the coin. We’ll explain which aspects of Kodi are legal and what uses of Kodi are illegal.

When Is Kodi Legal?

Let’s start by looking at a few Kodi use-cases which are entirely legal.

1. Installing the App on Your Device

When you install Kodi on your computer, set-top box, or mobile device for the first time, you won’t find any video content inside the app. Instead, Kodi is an empty shell, waiting for you to populate it.


Ergo, it is perfectly legal for you to install Kodi and leave it running on your machine.

2. Watching Content You Own

kodi films

As mentioned earlier, Kodi was initially designed as an app which enabled you to view, manage, and watch your existing library of movies, TV shows, and other videos.

The legality of the use case is not in doubt. If you own a TV show or movie—either that you’ve bought online or ripped from an old VHS or DVD—you can watch it through Kodi without concerns.


3. Downloading Add-Ons From the Kodi Repo

Because Kodi is open-source, anyone can develop add-ons for the app. The availability of third-party add-ons is one of the things that makes Kodi so appealing.

The add-ons come in many forms. They can provide access to services, extra features, improved functionality, or even metadata about the videos in your library.

Unfortunately, many third-party add-ons fall into the illegal category. More on that shortly. So, if you want to make sure you stay on the right side of the law, stick to the add-ons in the official Kodi repo.

You won’t be short of choice, even for live TV and movie streaming. Some of the most popular legal TV add-ons for Kodi include CBC, Adult Swim, BBC iPlayer, Comet TV, Haystack TV, Newsy, Popcornflix, and Pluto. And for videos, check out the YouTube add-on for Kodi How to Watch YouTube on Kodi Using the Add-On Here's how to watch YouTube on Kodi using the official add-on, plus some extra tips and tricks that'll come in handy. Read More .


Note: The Kodi official repo is not an exhaustive list of legal Kodi add-ons. Some legitimate add-ons exist outside the store.

When Is Kodi Illegal?

Just like any computer app (think torrent clients, video downloaders, and even web browsers), Kodi can be used for illegal purposes even though the app itself is entirely legal.

Let’s look at some of the illegal ways in which people can use the Kodi app.

1. VPNs

If you’ve read any of our Kodi content (or indeed, any Kodi content on other sites), you’ll be familiar with an oft-repeated mantra—connect to a VPN while using Kodi.


However, even such innocuous advice could land you in trouble with the law; VPNs themselves are illegal in countries such as China, Iran, and Russia.

As long as you live in a state where VPNs are legal, we recommend signing up for either ExpressVPN or CyberGhost. We’ve also written about the best VPNs for Kodi 3 Free VPNs for Kodi (But the Best VPN for Kodi Is Paid) Free VPNs for Kodi do exist, although they aren't the best. This article lists the best of the free VPNs that specialize in Kodi. Read More .

2. Add-Ons

Is Kodi Exodus legal? The answer is a resounding “no.” For the uninitiated, Exodus is a Kodi add-on that provides unlimited access to movies, TV series, documentaries, and more.

There are plenty of similar apps available—some supply on-demand streaming content; others focus on live TV.

All such add-ons have one thing in common: they are providing you with access to content which you do not have the legal right to watch.

It goes without saying that the illegal add-ons are not endorsed nor approved by anyone who’s connected with the Kodi Foundation in an official capacity.

Most worryingly from an end-user standpoint, you are not safe from prosecution if you use the add-ons. Sure, the add-on creators are most at risk, but authorities have repeatedly warned that home users could be caught in the crossfire.

Here’s what Kieron Sharp, chief executive of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), said to The Independent newspaper in June 2017:

“We’re looking at the people who are providing the apps and add-ons, 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.”

The maximum possible sentence for online copyright infringement in the UK recently increased from two to 10 years in prison. The average jail term in the US is 3-5 years.

3. Fully Loaded Kodi Boxes

The last few years have seen so-called “fully loaded” Kodi boxes become increasingly popular. You will often see them advertised on sites like Craigslist and Gumtree.

Although there are many iterations of a fully loaded Kodi box, their intention is the same—to let you watch illegal live TV streams and on-demand content by using preloaded add-ons and other customizations.

Buying and using fully loaded Kodi boxes is against the law in most western countries, though some legal gray areas remain.

It’s vital to differentiate fully loaded Kodi boxes from regular Kodi boxes, which are not in any way illegal. If you would like to learn more, read our article discussing the legality of Kodi boxes What Are Kodi Boxes and Is It Legal to Own One? In this article, not only do we explain what Kodi boxes are, but also offer you a definitive answer on their legality. Read More .

Kodi IS Legal, But Be Careful

So, to recap. The Kodi app is entirely legal. There is nothing about the software or the code that could land you in trouble with the law.

All the question marks concerning illegality arise from how you use the app once you’ve installed it on your machine. If you want to be certain you’re not crossing any boundaries, only use the app to watch media you already own and stick to add-ons from the official repo.

To learn more about using Kodi, be sure to read our articles on the best legal Kodi add-ons for IPTV The 10 Best Kodi Add-Ons to Watch IPTV Kodi is an excellent media player, but a few add-ons can make it even better. Here are the best Kodi add-ons to watch IPTV. Read More and how to update Kodi on an Amazon Fire Stick How to Update Kodi on Amazon Fire Stick It's vital to keep your Kodi app up to date on every device. Here's how to update Kodi on your Amazon Fire Stick. Read More .

Related topics: Kodi, Legal Issues, Media Streaming.

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  1. Brian K
    March 25, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    So. While I am not a lawyer.......I believe DCMA still expressly prohibits (illegal) ripping DRM dvd's/blu rays. And. I believe pretty much any DVD or Blu Ray obtained at a store has some form (even if very weak) of DRM, no? Needless to say, that's US. And I'm completely ignorant of the correlating EU, etc. laws/rulings.

    But. As many have highlighted out there…... If you're not sharing content or exposing it externally, there is little threat of being sued.

  2. Tygon
    March 20, 2019 at 2:54 am

    This article is incorrect about what it states. streaming content is not illegal. There's a legal distinction between streaming and downloading. To download or to make a copy of a piece of content without a license is illegal. To redistribute a copy without a license is illegal. that means that torrenting or using a torrent program is illegal because it downloads (copies) and uploads (redistributes). But there is no law against simply streaming content (with the exception of some places in Europe). Exodus is not an illegal program. All it is is a search engine.

    Frankly Speaking Google or any other search engine could be the topic of this discussion just as easily. Though to stay with the metaphor you would have to be accusing windows and asking, is windows illegal? And to stay with the metaphor you would have to unequivocally say that Chrome and Firefox and Google and other search engines are in fact illegal. And since that's completely wrong, I mean...

    • Dan Price
      March 20, 2019 at 3:49 pm


      A legal distinction between streaming and downloading does exist, but that doesn't mean that one is legal and one is not.

      As per a 2017 EU Court of Justice ruling, streaming movies from non-licensed providers is illegal across the EU.

      In the US, the situation is indeed slightly more complex, but the general opinion among legal experts is that if you download even part of a file, such as during buffering, you have infringed copyright and thus broken the law.

      Realistically, single users are not prosecuted. However, it is extreme folly to assume that if a group like the MPAA did haul you up in court that you would have a legal leg to stand on.

      Re: your point about Exodus, it is illegal under the "inducement rule," a test created in a 2005 Supreme Court ruling which states that a company or website can be held accountable for distributing unlicensed content if it clearly encourages users to infringe a copyright. It's why sites like ProjectFreeTV disappeared.

  3. Michael
    March 19, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    All they're needing to do is code for accepting payments. Set it at maybe $4 per month, and how the money can roll in.

  4. Amryman36
    March 19, 2019 at 1:58 am

    Its not ilegal to download those addons and its not ilegal to stream those movies from those addons. Its completely legal! You cant down load individual movies on a device (make a copy) thats the only thing you cant do. Learn the law and quit writing bogus info.

    • Robin
      March 19, 2019 at 2:34 pm


    • Dan Price
      March 20, 2019 at 3:41 pm

      "It's not illegal to download those addons"

      --- I never said it was?

      "It's not illegal to stream those movies from those addons. It's completely legal! You cant download individual movies on a device (make a copy) that's the only thing you cant do."

      --- This is entirely incorrect. Please stop misadvising our readers.

      1. In April 2017, the EU Court of Justice ruled that using a device to stream copyrighted content without the right permissions or subscriptions is breaking the law.

      2. In the US, when the user downloads even part of a file, such as during buffering, it counts as a copy of copyrighted material, which is illegal.

  5. Zac
    March 18, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Since legality is such an issue why don’t companies help illuminate the problem by increasing full time back to 40 hours a week. Also an app. type option for box office movies similar to Netflix, and Hulu might help

    • Zac
      March 18, 2019 at 8:08 pm

      I meant to iliminate not illuminate, p.o.s. auto-incorrect

      • Ang
        March 19, 2019 at 8:31 am


  6. N Sheehan
    March 18, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    IMHO the only reason that Kodi has become so popular is because the cost of cable has become prohibitive. At an average monthly cost of $100 after taxes and rental fees, that's a whole lot of coin to sit on your ass. If they were offering decent packages at $50/month all in, Kodi would continue to be of interest only to a few users. The greed of Bell, Rogers, MTS, etc have created this Kodi revolution and have none to blame but themselves.