What Are Kodi Boxes and Is It Legal to Own One?
Whatsapp Pinterest
Advertisement

While we have discussed the Kodi app in detail previously, we haven’t spent much time discussing Kodi boxes. With Kodi boxes becoming increasingly popular, this article aims to remedy that.

With those unfamiliar with Kodi, you can run it on your desktop, install the Android version from the Google Play Store, or even follow a workaround to get Kodi running on your iOS device.

As for Kodi boxes, they are becoming increasingly common as people look to slash their cable bill or cut the cord completely.

If you regularly follow the cord-cutting news, you might have seen some worrying stories about the legality of such boxes. In this article, we explain what Kodi boxes are and offer you a definitive answer on their lawfulness.

What Is Kodi?

Before explaining what a Kodi box is, it would be pertinent to first clarify what Kodi itself is.

Formerly known as XMBC, Kodi is a free-to-use open source media player. It acts as a single centralized hub for all your locally saved entertainment. It also lets you watch live TV How to Watch Live TV on Kodi How to Watch Live TV on Kodi Cutting the cord can mean losing access to live television. However, there are a number of ways to watch live TV on Kodi. Read More thanks to its support for most well-known back-ends, including MediaPortal, MythTV, NextPVR, Tvheadend, and VDR.

The Kodi software is cross-platform (available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS), it can play almost any media format you throw at it, and it can stream your content to other Kodi installations on your network or any device that supports UPnP.

However, for many users, the software’s biggest appeal lies in its add-ons. Given that the app is open source, there are thousands of add-ons to choose from. Some of the best Kodi add-ons The 20 Best Kodi Add-Ons You Didn't Know You Needed The 20 Best Kodi Add-Ons You Didn't Know You Needed If you have been using illegal add-ons to watch TV and movies on Kodi, STOP! There are plenty of great legal add-ons, so why take the risk? Read More are entirely legal (such as YouTube, Hulu, and Spotify), while others are most definitely illegal.

Unfortunately, it’s the illegal ones that garner the most attention. They’ll often let you watch live sport from around the world, stream the latest episodes of your favorite TV shows, or watch the newest Hollywood blockbusters on the day they hit movie theaters.

What Is a Kodi Box?

A Kodi box is a standalone device that runs the Kodi software and plugs directly into your TV or monitor. The boxes have a full version of the app pre-installed and ready to use. All you need is the box itself, a power cord, and an HDMI cable.

Some boxes are specifically designed to only run the Kodi software, while others are modified versions of common set-top media players Chromecast Ultra vs. Apple TV 4K vs. Roku Ultra vs. Amazon Fire 4K: Which Is Best? Chromecast Ultra vs. Apple TV 4K vs. Roku Ultra vs. Amazon Fire 4K: Which Is Best? Which 4K streaming device should you buy? Let us help you decide between the Chromecast Ultra, the Apple TV 4K, the Roku Ultra, and the Amazon Fire TV 4K. Read More . Kodi can run on Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Google Nexus Player, Nvidia Shield, any device that supports Android TV, Raspberry Pi, and a host of products from smaller independent manufacturers.

Is Kodi Illegal?

The answer is a resounding No. Kodi is not illegal now and will almost certainly never become illegal in the future.

In simple terms, Kodi is nothing more than a media app. When you install it on your device, it’s empty. It’s nothing more than a shell waiting for you, the user, to populate it with content. No add-ons come pre-packaged, and even if they did, there is no way the developers would release the app with the illegal ones baked in.

Kodi even has an official repository for add-ons. Every single one of the add-ons you will find in it is entirely legal to download and use in every jurisdiction.

Are Kodi Boxes Illegal?

Again, the answer is No. But this time, there’s a caveat.

Firstly, let’s be clear: if you buy a Kodi box and it comes with nothing more than a copy of the app installed, you’re safe. Your purchase is entirely legal, and you have nothing to worry about. What you do with it beyond that point is your choice, and you will bear the responsibility for your decisions.

If you’re shopping for a Kodi box, the key phrase that should set alarm bells ringing is “Fully Loaded.” Such offers are rife on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Typically, they’ll also profess the availability of free movies or live sports.

kodi box fully loaded

These boxes are illegal. The law in the majority of countries, including the United States, is very clear: accessing pirated content is prohibited. Therefore, buying them, selling them, and using them can land you in trouble. If you value your freedom you should avoid buying a fully loaded Kodi box.

Interestingly, there’s nothing particularly special about the fully loaded boxes. The seller has merely loaded them up with some of the most popular illegal add-ons. Which means that there’s nothing to stop you turning a barebones Kodi box into a fully loaded Kodi box by yourself.

Could Authorities Kill Kodi Because of Kodi Boxes?

It’s very unlikely. Fully loaded Kodi boxes are attractive because they can act like a typical satellite or cable box: you use a Kodi remote control Kodi Remote: The 8 Best Ways to Control Kodi From the Couch Kodi Remote: The 8 Best Ways to Control Kodi From the Couch In this article we take a look at all of the different options available for Kodi remote control. Read More , you can channel surf, and you’ll often get an on-screen TV guide.

But content-wise, they are no different to using Windows, Chrome, or any other app to access pirated content. You don’t need any specialized technical knowledge, and if you know where to look, there is masses of illegal content you can watch for free.

If Windows is safe from the long arm of the law, Kodi is also safe.

Could Authorities Prosecute You for Using Kodi?

The answer to this question depends on where you live.

Kodi Cases in the UK

In the UK, there is now a serious push to clamp down on the sellers of these devices. A man from Middlesbrough became the first person to be prosecuted for selling fully loaded Kodi boxes when he stood trial in May 2017. He faced a charge of “selling adapted devices for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of effective technological measures” and was fined £250,000.

Another man, Terry O’Reilly, is already serving a four-year term for the less serious “conspiracy to defraud,” after he allegedly sold more than 1,000 Kodi boxes to pubs around the country. Prosecutors claim that the buyers used the boxes to show live Premier League soccer to their patrons for free.

“The courts have provided a clear message: this is against the law and selling systems which allow people to watch unauthorized Premier League broadcasts is a form of mass piracy and is sufficiently serious to warrant a custodial sentence. There can now be no doubt for consumers that these systems are illegal.”

— Kevin Plumb, Premier League Director of Legal Services, speaking after the conviction of Mr. O’Reilly (Quote via City of London Police).

Whether the courts could eventually prosecute end-users is unclear. There doesn’t seem to be much chance of it happening at the moment, but things can change quickly. It would be wise to heed the advice of Lord Toby Harris. He is the Chair of National Trading Standards in the UK:

“I would warn any person or business selling or operating such a device that they are in breach of copyright law. National Trading Standards will continue to protect legitimate business and pursue those who breach copyright in this way.” (Reported by The Express.)

The Kodi Situation in the US

In the US, it’s a similar story. Some users are already claiming they’ve received copyright infringement notices from their ISPs. Remember, your ISP knows exactly what you are watching online.

It’s fair to assume Kodi boxes will quickly go the same way as torrent clients in the United States. Subscribers to the country’s major ISPs face having their connections cut off if they repeatedly ignore the warnings.

Meanwhile, Kodi Usage in Europe

In mainland Europe, the situation is slightly different. According to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), you’re not breaking the law if you use Kodi boxes (or the Kodi desktop app) to stream copyrighted material.

The law stems from a landmark case in 2014. Several media conglomerates sued media service company Meltwater. The CJEU backed Meltwater. It said viewing copyrighted content is not copyright infringement because users only have the data on their computers temporarily.

However, you shouldn’t be complacent. The controversial European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market—which contains the infamous “Article 13”—is still making its way through the legislative chambers. Depending on the eventual outcome, the law could change radically.

Thinking of Getting a Kodi Box?

To summarize, the Kodi app is legal and Kodi boxes are legal. Kodi boxes loaded with add-ons that let you access copyrighted material are illegal. Of course, using Kodi to access pirated content on your desktop is also illegal. However, it’s not something on which the authorities are currently focusing.

To learn more about Kodi, check out our articles on Kodi keyboard shortcuts you need to know 25 Helpful Kodi Keyboard Shortcuts You Need to Know 25 Helpful Kodi Keyboard Shortcuts You Need to Know If you use Kodi on a PC, don't settle for clunky mouse input. Learn these helpful Kodi keyboard shortcuts instead! Read More how your Kodi app could be at risk from malware 3 Ways Your Kodi Box Could Be at Risk From Malware 3 Ways Your Kodi Box Could Be at Risk From Malware Do you use Kodi add-ons? You might be exposing yourself to malware, including cryptojacking. Here are three forms Kodi malware you should watch out for. Read More , and the best free VPNs for Kodi usage 3 Free VPNs for Kodi (But the Best VPN for Kodi Is Paid) 3 Free VPNs for Kodi (But the Best VPN for Kodi Is Paid) For security, privacy, and a better streaming experience, you'll want a VPN on your Kodi device. But which VPN should you pick? Read More .

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Mr.V.
    August 19, 2018 at 12:09 am

    Just wondering if this would be a good replacement for my WD-TV box. Western Digital doesn't support it so I'm looking for a replacement. KODI seems like it's a winner. I hope it is.

    • Bill de Haan
      October 1, 2018 at 6:37 pm

      For what it's worth, I got a Kodi box specifically because my WDTV Hub died.

      Kodi, out of the box, with no plugins, does pretty much everything that the WDTV did, and a little more. It's basically the same as WDTV, except it also does things like IMDB lookups, and marks what movies and episodes you've watched, as well as allowing you to group movies by series, and the like.

  2. Ron
    October 13, 2017 at 6:40 am

    I understand the legal situation. However I strongly oppose the media giants who have somehow managed to control the airways and the distribution of information to the public and have the nerve to now charge for this....and somehow got the law on their side....by lobbying I presume. There are many people who cannot afford to pay for this and the elite media people are now gouging the unsuspecting public. I have no problem if their rates were reasonable but come on now, hundreds of dollars monthly to watch TV??? Years ago it used to be FREE.
    This has got to be illegal in itself. Information in the airways should be free to everyone, supported by advertisement, funding, endowments, contributions, or other means. Kodi is a way to level the playing field, but the powers that be don't like competition. This is going to be a fight.

  3. Larry
    April 21, 2017 at 10:15 am

    But why the need to have a separate 'Box' to run this system on? as opposed to running it on your main PC? what are the Benefits is any?

    • Bon
      April 21, 2017 at 11:11 pm

      This is so people can plug it into their television and watch in their lounge room. Believe it or not but people still do this.

    • likefunbutnot
      October 2, 2018 at 1:04 am

      A typical set top box will use a tiny fraction of the power your PC would use and definitely won't have any fans or other components that make noise. You should also get a decent remote and have a UI that's well-crafted to be used from the couch, rather than whatever make-do scheme you can come up with for your desktop OS.

      Make sure whatever you buy can do 4k HEVC (x.265) decoding and supports whatever audio you have (don't use a box that will only do stereo if you have a 9-way Atmos system) and you'll probably be pretty happy.

  4. clayton lavalley
    April 17, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    what is the cost for one of these little jewels, in american currancy,and where can i get one?

  5. Doc
    April 17, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    "Is it legal to own one (a Kodi Box)"? Of course it's legal to own one. It's what you do with it that is the legal gray area. Clickbait article has clickbait lede.

  6. likefunbutnot
    April 15, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    As I understand the relevant legal standing, at least in the USA, viewing copyrighted content without the owner's consent is not, strictly speaking, illegal. The crime is being committed by the person distributing the illegal content. As long as you're purely a passive consumer, you're OK, just as if you were in a nightclub that isn't playing its music licensing to RIAA.

    Some Kodi Add-ons use delivery mechanisms that cause a device to send data back (e.g. torrents) or retain a copy of that data, in which case your device is acting as a distributor and acting in an illegal fashion.

    The most current release of Kodi as of this writing requires users to confirm that they want to install Add-ons from outside Kodi's official repository and to assume responsibility for what those Add-Ons might be doing. The Questionably-legal streaming services are in the process of moving to secured (HTTPS) connections that can't be negotiated with older releases of Kodi. I suspect this will absolve Kodi in this one area, so there's no danger of Kodi in and of itself going away.

    I'll set up Kodi for people and even install Indigo, a tool that allows users to install third-party add-ons. I won't actually install other add-ons for anyone else, because I can't be bothered to figure out which ones involve pure streaming functions and which do something else. I don't care about Kodi's potentially illegal streaming capabilities. I like it just fine for accessing the media I've already stored locally. I tell people that. They can figure it out for themselves or read one of approximately ten thousand articles on how to modify Kodi on their own. It's not my problem what they do, either.

    Kodi boxes? I have Shield TV, Matricom, Pivos and Amazon STBs. I have Pi and Pi-derived hardware. They're not created equal, with the biggest issue being how well their UI works and what media codecs they actually support. There's a big reason the Shield TV costs $200 and I don't even have Pis, the Matricom or the Pivos box plugged in any longer.

  7. RetroWatcher
    April 15, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Fully loaded Kodi boxes are particularly dangerous for unaware users if they contain P2P, sopcast, or torrent plug-ins. Once activated, these plug-ins turn the Kodi box into a redistributor of illegal content and make its user assailable for costly dissuasions or lawsuits.

  8. William
    April 15, 2017 at 9:03 am

    I still fail to understand why this is so difficult for people to comprehend. And why publishing groups have made it even more seemingly complex than it actually gets. Unless you need attention that badly. It is not illegal to own a Kodi box; it is not illegal to install Kodi on something unless it violates that device's end user license agreement. It is however illegal to stream and watch content that you do not either own, have permission to watch from the studio and or publisher of the content, or you do not have a subscription to the service that provides said content via their app or streaming service. It doesn't matter if it has a VPN installed with it as long as you are the legal owner of that VPN software or it is free software. It is however illegal to use that VPN to access content that is not legal in your country or continent that you do not have a right to via ownership or rental. Use your brains it really is not that complex. Even for the technically unsavvy period articles like this just make it more confusing and raise more questions when that is completely unnecessary. People think Americans are idiots but the way the EU and UK is making this packed with legal jargon it is making everyone literally seem like a truly epic dolt. It's safe if you use common sense and think hey if I don't own it I shouldn't watch it. Even somebody with an IQ of 80 can deal with that. Making it more complex than it actually is because it is black and white it's just nonsense and writing for attention. Also many VPN companies so off the content that people are accessing to literally anyone and everyone. Their privacy structure is almost non-existent. You really have to do your research, or hey don't do anything illegal and it won't be an issue

  9. Gerry
    April 15, 2017 at 1:41 am

    "Remember, your ISP knows exactly what you are watching online." Is that true if you're using a VPN? Or Opera, which has a VPN baked in?

    • David
      April 15, 2017 at 8:56 am

      If you use a VPN your ISP can only see that you are transferring data but not now data itself because of encryption. Opera is a big company and I wouldn't feel completely safe using it for illegal activities. There are providers that don't even log data so nobody can ever find out what you did. One of these is cryptostorm which lets you access the Darknet as well. Google VPN providers that don't log data. Or give cryptostorm a try. I hope I was able to help

      PS. I'm running kodi on my raspberry pi 3 and loaded it up with surely illegal addons through SuperRepo

  10. CoolKat
    April 15, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Good article. I wonder if it is consider illegal to stream the content. It would be pretty much like downloading instead of downloading and uploading like you would with BitTorrent in which I would see it being a problem since your are also sharing it. In what areas would this be illegal. Is this what you were referring to about the EU?

    • David
      April 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

      I'm germany you get bogus letters asking for money. They count on scaring you. If you ignore them it goes away. I checked with my lawyer and have 5 letters and nothing happened like he said. But if you use a VPN nobody can see what you're doing. Just use a torrent friendly VPN so you don't get a letter from the VPN provider cause they got a letter.

      Torrent friendly VPN = safe sailing in piracy

      • JohnnyBoy
        May 31, 2017 at 1:29 am

        What are they going to do if you use Kodi? Send the Kodi police to your house lol. If so I would punch them right in the mouth and send them off my property.