Kodi has a reputation for being a safe-haven for pirates and copyright thieves. Indeed, the problem has become so severe that authorities in many western countries are beginning to crack down on end-users.
But Kodi doesn’t have to be all about illegal copies of Game of Thrones. Aside from its usefulness as a media library management tool, it’s also possible to use the app for watching perfectly legal streams of TV shows and movies.
In this article, we’re going to focus specifically on free classic movies. You know, good movies from a time when acting and character development trumped CGI and special effects.
Which third-party add-ons should you install if you want to watch spaghetti westerns or old-time horror flicks? Read on to find out…
Note: If you’re not sure how to install add-ons, check out our beginner’s guide to Kodi.
Classic Cinema is a movie aggregator. The add-on scours several video sites for free classic movies.
All the usual film categories are there, but there are some less common genres such as musicals and cartoons. The add-on also offers an entire section dedicated to silent movies spread across multiple categories.
Well-known films on offer include Moby Dick (1956), Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), and Captain Scarlett (1953).
Best of all, you can find the add-on in the official Kodi repo, meaning you can be confident that all of the content is entirely legal.
FilmRise offers some TV shows, but the add-on specializes in movies. The app is entirely free to download and use; you don’t even need to create an account.
At the time of writing, you can find more than 7,500 classic movies across categories such as Crime, Horror, Kids, British Drama, and Comedy.
None of the films and shows on offer are “premium.” In fact, unless you a movie addict, you might struggle to find anything you have actually ever heard of.
FilmRise holds distribution licenses for all the content it offers, thus making the add-on entirely legal. It is available in the official repo.
3. The Internet Archive [No Longer Available]
Here at MakeUseOf, we regularly preach about the virtues of The Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine.
The site is a non-profit library that covers everything from eBooks to software. It also has a section dedicated to videos. And this is where you’ll find more than three million TV shows and movies.
All the content on the site is public domain, so you won’t fall foul of any copyright laws while you’re enjoying the footage.
The free classic movies are subdivided into many categories, including Film Noir, Silent Movies, and Sci-Fi. You can even find 35mm stock footage and old sports clips.
Once again, the add-on is available via the official repo.
Netzkino is another app that’s available from the official Kodi repo.
It’s developed by a team in Germany, so the content has a heavy bias towards the German language. However, with a bit of digging, you can find plenty of English language movies which are not available elsewhere. Some of the non-English movies are available with subtitles, but all the menus in the app are German-only.
Netzkino is ad-supported. If you want to remove the adverts from the videos you’re watching, you’ll need to subscribe to Netzkino Plus for $4.99/month.
The add-on offers both classic movies and B-side modern movies.
Unlike the similarly-named PopcornTime, Popcornflix is entirely legal. It offers the ad-supported streaming of free classic movies and TV shows, as well as a smattering of newer content.
The site is owned by Screen Media Ventures. You’re probably not aware, but Screen Media Ventures is the largest independent distributor of movies to the worldwide television market.
Famous classic movies on the app include Jackie Chan’s City Hunter, John Ford’s Stagecoach, and horror staple Frankenstein.
The Popcornflix app is also available for Android, iOS, Roku, Xbox, and Apple TV.
If you know where to look, Reddit is a treasure trove of free classic movies.
If you haven’t already done so you should go and subscribe to /r/classicfilms. All the movies on the subreddit are in the public domain or have licenses that allow them to be shown on the host site.
This Reddit add-on lets you watch videos from Reddit in Kodi. You can add as many subreddits as you want. Once you have added a subreddit, the add-on will display any video content from it in a constantly-updating feed.
The add-on also offers a reasonable degree of customization. For example, you can automatically autoplay videos you’ve not finished watching when the app opens.
SnagFilms has over 5,000 movies as well as a selection of TV shows and documentaries. It even offers some exclusive original comedy shorts.
And you don’t need to worry about the add-on’s legality. It has partnerships in place with several leading broadcasters, including Comcast, Hulu, IMDb, and Verizon.
Based out of Washington DC, the ad-supported add-on also provides some modern movies. At the time of writing, 2004’s Super Size Me and 2008’s Kicking It are both available. Kicking It, which tells the story of the 2006 Homeless World Cup, won awards at both the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals.
Legally Watch Free Classic Movies on Kodi
We all know that Kodi can be used to find just about any TV show or movie you want, but only if you’re prepared to break the law. However, if you want to stay in the authorities’ good books while still enjoying video content—and we really think you should—the quest becomes a bit more challenging.
We hope the seven add-ons we have introduced you to in this article will help make your quest more manageable.