By Staff Reporter ( | First Posted: May 31, 2019 10:21 AM EDT

Is Kodi illegal?

Kodi, a cross-platform open source media center software that has redefined the way millions of users worldwide enjoy their entertainment over the best part of the last two decades. Kodi simply provides software or app from which you can play media content either stored locally or online via add-ons.

If you're unsure as to whether Kodi is a legitimate app or whether its services are generally unlawful, this should be an interesting read for you. The following aims to provide answers surround whether Kodi is illegal or not and also why there is even a need to ask such a question.

Is it legal and safe to use Kodi?

Before determining whether Kodi is legal or not, it's important that you understand what it is in clear terms. Kodi is generally used to describe the application and what it allows you to do. Kodi is a media centre that allows you specifically do one thing, ie import, arrange and view your media. Kodi as an Open Source software allows you use add-ons which are user-developed to import all kinds of media into the software before viewing them.

Since Kodi is completely open source, third-party developers can create unofficial add-ons which do not need to go through any screening or approval before being used with the media center. Both the official add-ons which are screened and the unofficial ones offer users an unprecedented amount of media whether via links hosted externally or directly from wherever they're stored online.

So, by definition, Kodi is entirely legal. It does not play any role whatsoever in the provision of content or any form of media. It simply provides an open source platform and is not directly responsible for how it's used. Does this mean everything done via the app or software is legal? What really makes the use of this Kodi illegal? Read on to find out.

When is using Kodi Illegal?

To clear any doubts you may have, there are definitely situations where your use of Kodi may be deemed illegal and we'll tell you how. Since Kodi does not provide any content, you'll have to rely on builds and add-ons that usually provide an archive of media content or links to live streams and this is where it starts to get tricky.

Some of these Kodi builds and add-ons include pirated content which is typically unlawful to view in most parts of the world. While there are some builds that have either being blacklisted, there are definitely some fully-working Kodi builds that offer a vast amount of content. The use of third-party add-ons that allow you stream pirated content, for instance, is clearly on the wrong side of the legal spectrum.

A real-life scenario of using Kodi illegally involved a British businessman Malcolm Mayes who sold Kodi boxes that were preloaded with builds and add-ons for streaming live football games to pubs and other similar businesses. Mayes advertized that it was 100% legal to use these preloaded Kodi boxes in this manner and charged hundreds of businesses around £1,000 each. Eventually, the authorities caught up with him and he had to pay around £250,000 after he pleaded guilty in court.

Although there are currently no lawsuits filed against individuals who used Kodi to stream pirated content till date, it doesn't mean there's no risk of this happening. Different countries have different copyright laws and may find ways of roping in users who violate them by any means including streaming via Kodi.

Stay Protected with a VPN

When you access the internet in general, most if not all of your online activity can be traced back to you. This potentially means that third parties including your ISP and websites you visit can see your IP address and trace it back to your real identity. Scare, right? This also applies to Kodi. When you stream media via Kodi, copyright trolls, your ISP and other third parties know exactly what you're doing.

Well, it doesn't have to be so. By accessing the internet in general or Kodi via a VPN, you essentially mask your real IP address making it impossible for third parties to know who you are online. By accessing Kodi with a VPN, you'll be ensuring that there are no future legal blowbacks in your direction and also preventing any copyright trolls from knowing your real identity.

Even if you do not intend to access any copyrighted content on Kodi, it could still be dangerous to do so without a VPN as you do not really know the exact content hosted by some of these third-party add-ons until you open them.

Closing Thoughts

The open source nature of Kodi means that there will always be questions surrounding whether it's legal or not to use. While the app will remain a legal software, the answer to this question expressly lies around how Kodi is being used and what's it's used for. While it may generally be safe to use Kodi's official add-ons, third-party add-ons from independent developers are a different ball game that should be treated with caution.

Nevertheless, whatever your intentions are for accessing Kodi, we recommend connecting a VPN before doing so for the numerous benefits highlighted above.

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