The High Tech Society

What the Crackdown on Kodi Apps Means for Streamers  

Millions of people now use the media streaming app to access television and movies from aroudn the world, legally and illegally. Kodi gives you access to your entire media library, on every device, right from your TV, making it ideal for those who have purchased a wide variety of media on sites like iTunes, Amazon, and Humble Bundle. With one, easy way to integrate everything, it’s almost difficult not to use it once you learn how easy it is to stream movies from your TV to your computer.

However, Kodi also has a dark underbelly of piracy, with hundreds of apps dedicated to using the program to stream from sites that offer media for free – with no license. While users could use these with relative anonymity and access both free and legal content, more and more of them are being shut down as governments around the world crack down on potentially illegal content.

Illegally Streaming on Kodi is Becoming More Illegal

For example, most Kodi users have the Pheonix add-on for Kodi installed, and most would have noticed that it is no longer working. Pheonix was shut down by its owner, following Kodi’s announcement (in April) that USA lawsuits are underway against Kodi applications including ZemTV and TVAddons.

These apps both enable users to stream live TV without a subscription, and the producers are pursuing legal damages.

In addition, multiple goverments and online marketplaces have chosen to join in on the crackdown as well. Amazon, Facebook, and eBay have all committed to banning the sale of “fully loaded” Android TV boxes, complete with Kodi and illegal streaming apps. These are increasingly popular, and will likely still be available on sites like Craigslist, but are now illegal in the EU.

What Does That Mean for Consumers?

If you’re using Kodi to stream illegal content, you might be in legal trouble if you’re caught. But, you might not. For example, the 6 strikes law effectively ended in 2017 and won’t be replaced. This means that your ISP can no longer legally do anything about you streaming from apps like Kodi. However, let’s say that you were using a streaming add-on on your Kodi and watching content illegally. They could be required to provide a list of user IPs as the result of a court trial, and you could then be at risk for litigation yourself. While this scenario is unlikely, and most publishers care more about illegal content distributors than consumers, you have to remember that if you are illegally streaming, you are breaking the law.

Is It Really Illegal?

In most cases, streaming files are considered ‘temporary’ files, which you do not keep or use, only view. These temporary files are technically exempt from piracy rules under current regulations. However, that is merely a technicality.

For example, in the EU, the European Court of Justice ruled that it is illegal to customize Android TV boxes with Kodi add-ons designed to illegally stream. The software itself is not illegal, but the way it is being used is. That ruling could set a precedent against illegal streaming being treated in the same way as illegally downloading. Because most people can see that the differences are a technicality on their own, judges will likely agree.

What Now?

Pirating content on the Internet is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous for users as governments around the world enact newer and stronger anti-piracy laws. Most challenging for users is the fact that quality piracy sites are being shut down.

However, there are alternatives and a good ones. The popularity of pirate streaming sites has forced many publishers to provide their own content for low-cost streaming, and there are now plenty of places you can legally stream. So much so that some of the best Kodi addons available now are totally legit and legal. While the availability of free and legal media streaming sites is sparser than you might like, they do exist, especially if you don’t care about watching the latest releases.