Is Kodi Legal & Safe to Use? 2021 Safety Measures US, India, EU

by
Frederik Lipfert
Dr. Frederik Lipfert Founder, vpncheck
Updated on 7 Nov 2021

Is Kodi Legal and Safe to Use?

Show someone Kodi in action, and the next thing they ask is, “is it legal?” Without fail.

You’ve likely had the same thought yourself.

Kodi can organize a third-party library of content and make online piracy as sleek as Netflix or renting a movie from Apple.

It’s all a little too good to be true, and we’re sure you’re wondering if there are any risks to downloading the best Kodi addons and streaming every movie, sport, and episode ever made in glorious HD for free!

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know to use Kodi safely. We’ll tell you where the Kodi app gets illegal and how to protect yourself if you choose to cross that line.

Is Kodi Legal?

Using Kodi is 100% legal.

Saying that Kodi is illegal because people can use it for piracy is like saying Windows 10 is illegal for everyone because I’ve got BitTorrent running in the background right now.

The legality of installing Kodi on Firestick and/or other devices is assessed on a case-by-case basis, and you only enter the grey area once you begin to introduce third-party addons.

That’s not to say that all third-party addons are illegal, but since Kodi is an open-source software, there’s no company vetting these apps.

Some of the most popular addons like The Crew and The Oath will allow users to stream movies and series. But these add-ons are online folders full of content; they aren’t registered companies licensed to distribute this content. 

The streaming of copyrighted content is illegal. The question is, on an individual level, if you’re just streaming content for your own private entertainment, how likely is that to affect you?

Is Kodi Legal in the USA?

Kodi is legal in the US, but downloading copyrighted content is not. Streaming exists in the grey area. It’s not illegal in the US if you aren’t making copies, so, in practice, enforcement tends to target uploaders.

There’s also safety in numbers. The US is a pirate nation. It leads the world with 17 billion visits to piracy sites a year and growing. It’s impossible to come after everyone. Millennials are all voting adults now and grew up with piracy. It’s extremely normalized, and going after individuals is political suicide. The laws have been amended to reflect this.

In December 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Within that, the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 (PLSA) increases criminal penalties for those who, on a large scale, “willfully and for commercial advantage or private financial gain, illegally stream copyrighted material. Previously, illegal streaming was treated as a misdemeanor. Under the new law, the Department of Justice can bring felony charges against providers (as opposed to users) of such illegal services,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Streaming is decriminalized on a federal level, and it’s safe as long as you’re not turning a profit.

For individuals streaming Kodi content for their private entertainment, copyright infringement laws are ambiguous enough that there isn’t any real need to worry. A recent article on legality issues involving streaming pirated content further reinforces this reality. Remember, though, that this isn’t legal advice, and it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

If you’d like to avoid any worry or stress from the equation, hide your streaming traffic from your ISP and, by extension, the government, with the best VPN for Kodi like ExpressVPN.

Is Kodi Legal in India?

Similar to the situation in the United States, India’s legal system does not do much to deter individual streamers.

A lawyer commenting on the repercussions of the rise of Kodi boxes in India lamented the incapacity of the current legal framework to deal with Kodi because even though it makes it possible for users to access copyrighted content, it is sold for streaming legally.

A Kodi box is a physical box that’s pre-loaded with all the addons needed to stream content. They are especially popular in India, and some raids have taken place to try to disrupt the sale of these boxes. Essentially, the government is playing whack-a-mole. There’s no legislation targeting end-users, and, like in the US, enforcement is aimed at uploaders and hosters. 

As long as you’re not selling Kodi boxes or privacy-protected content, you’re extremely unlikely even to receive a cease and desist letter from your ISP. Again, this is not legal advice.

Something to be aware of if you’re using third-party plug-ins in India is that recently, the country has passed several laws that make it easier for the government to ask ISPs to collect metadata about their customer’s traffic. To eliminate this risk entirely and hide your internet traffic from everyone on the other side of your home router, use an excellent and top recommended VPN. The encryption will make it impossible for anyone to see what you’re doing. 

You can even install a VPN on your smart TV using Kodi to maintain your privacy on all devices. 

Is Kodi Legal in the EU & in Other Parts of the World?

The EU is a comparatively strict region when it comes to online piracy.

While there aren’t any laws prohibiting the use of Kodi in the EU, restrictions regarding the storage and distribution of copyrighted content are a lot stricter. People even face heavy penalties and jail time in some cases for promoting free online streaming tools. 

The sale of set-top boxes (STBs), decoders, or devices that come preloaded with Kodi is now prohibited in the EU. The EU Court of Justice, in a landmark ruling, decided that preloaded STBs were illegal because they allowed people to access protected works without authorization.

The ruling means that sellers of loaded set-top boxes can now be sued.

The Court of Justice of the European Union also released the following statement:

“The Court also finds that temporary acts of reproduction, on that multimedia player, of a copyright-protected work obtained by streaming on a website belonging to a third party offering that work without the consent of the copyright holder cannot be exempted from the right of reproduction.”

Kodi users in the EU should definitely use a VPN to hide their traffic. It’s also worth noting that even when ISPs have sent cease and desist letters to Kodi users, it rarely comes to anything and is generally considered a scare tactic.

When is Kodi Safe to Use?

There are two main concerns when using Kodi

The first concern is that you aren’t anonymous, and you might be watching something illegally, potentially without even knowing it. There’s a small chance that your ISP is monitoring you and a smaller chance still that someone cares enough to follow up.

The second concern is that when you start downloading and installing third-party addons you trust that the developer hasn’t added any malicious code. 

The solution to anonymity is simple. A VPN will hide your traffic from your ISP, which gives you the peace of mind of knowing that no one can trace your search history. 

Every year, laws are passed that give Internet Service Providers (ISP) access to our private data. The government is getting more intrusive and actively developing software for snooping on your online activity. And that assumes you can trust world governments in the first place. Recent data leaks have revealed spying and metadata collection at a scale that should be illegal. Privacy is truly dead.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. The easiest way to keep your ISP and government out of your search history is to use a VPN.

Using a VPN will mask your IP address and make sure that anything you do online cannot be traced back to you. That means you can use Kodi all you want and never have to worry about anyone keeping an eye on you.

For the best protection, we recommend using Kodi with ExpressVPN. It offers excellent protection, and you also get fast, reliable speeds for your streaming. Beyond the security and speed, ExpressVPN is great to use with Kodi because you never have to put up with throttling, and with ExpressVPN’s no-log policy, you get absolute peace of mind that there are no traces at all of your activity.

Other benefits you’ll enjoy from using a VPN for your Kodi streaming include unlocking geo-locked content and protection from the vulnerabilities third-party apps present.

Avoiding Malware and Viruses

Malware and viruses are fairly easy to avoid while using Kodi.

Companies do not vet third-party addon, but the community does. You are trusting that developers and tech wizards are downloading these addons too and checking for vulnerabilities. 

  • Only download popular add-ons. 

The Reddit community Addons4Kodi is a great resource for community moderation of various addons. Popularity is not a guarantee that an addon is safe, but it’s better than nothing. If you’re that concerned about viruses, you can always limit yourself to downloading apps from the official Kodi Add-on Repository.

  • Host Kodi on a server or a computer that has no critical files and which you don’t use for your internet banking.

If a purpose-built computer gets a virus, so what? Worst case scenario is that it uses some extra bandwidth until the community notices and patches the problem for the next update. 

  • Install Kodi on a Smart TV rather than on a PC.

You can opt for this precaution for similar reasons. The OS on Smart TVs is more restrictive, and there’s unlikely to be any sensitive data on your TV.

Conclusion

The answer to whether Kodi is safe and legal to use depends entirely on how you use the app. If you use it in its original state, it’s perfectly safe and legal. But, if you’re like most people and want to amp up your entertainment with third-party apps, you should take extra precautions and get a VPN at the bare minimum.

ExpressVPN is always a solid choice. Beyond the protection, a quality VPN service will help you get around geo-restrictions, stop your ISP from throttling your data connection, and keep away any unwanted attention while you have fun.