What are Kodi box internet TV streamers and are they legal?

Brian Thompson, a 54-year-old trader from Middlesbrough, was recently arrested for the sale of ‘Kodi’ boxes – a popular set-top streaming device. His trial will set a landmark UK precedent with regards to copyright law. You may know someone who owns a Kodi box, or you may even have one in your own living room. They’re available through retailers like Amazon, and reviews of them can be found across the web. So why was Mr. Thompson arrested?

Internet TV box Best Buys – don’t risk picking up an illegal streamer 

What is a Kodi box?

A ‘Kodi box’ is a loose term for any internet TV box designed with using the Kodi app first and foremost. Most of the time they’re sold with the app pre-installed. Technically any TV streamer capable of installing it could be a Kodi box, but when the term is used in the press it is most commonly in reference to the legally dubious first kind.

Is Kodi legal?

The problem with Kodi is that, while it utilises some wonderfully versatile and easy-to-use software, it can also be easily used for illegal streaming. Subscription sports and movie packages, for example, are only a few clicks and a quick download away – and all for free. The reason Mr. Thompson was arrested was not because he was selling Kodi boxes, but because he was selling them pre-loaded with these illegal apps and services.

Put simply: Kodi, and boxes with Kodi installed, are perfectly legal. The problem arises when the Kodi app is used to illegally stream subscription content. Obviously that’s something you shouldn’t do. And when you take those apps that allow you to illegally stream and pre-install them onto a streaming box, before then selling them as a free all-in-one global streaming source? That’s when you get into massive legal trouble, like Mr. Thompson.

What can you do legally with Kodi?

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You shouldn’t fear the app, despite all of the negative press it’s received lately. If you own a popular internet streaming box like the Amazon Fire TV (above) or the NVIDIA Shield TV you can install the app onto it by downloading it from its official website. It also runs on any Android, iOS, Windows, Mac or Linux device.

You can then choose from a huge array of legal add-ons, all of which are housed within the larger Kodi app. There are literally hundreds of them to choose from. YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitch, PBS and 9GAG are all available, which is fantastic if your streaming box doesn’t offer them via its usual app store.

More on this

TV reviews – find the best TV to do your internet streaming box justice
TV licence explained – everything you need to know about the TV licence
Catch-up TV – our guide to catching up with everything from BBC iPlayer to Sky Go

12 replies

  1. You don’t need a separate box any smart TV can download the software as can any phone or tablet fitted with chrome cast or similar. If Virgin, Sky et. al. weren’t so greedy people wouldn’t need such software.

    1. I agree with you, Mike H. Why is it that we in the uk suffer Sky’show miserly 4 matches a week of the EPL, when my friends in Malaysia, Australia and UAE are able to watch every match?
      On principle alone, I’ll buy a Kodiak capable device.

  2. When talking about the illegal addons, it should also be noted that the EU courts have not yet made a final decision on the legality of streaming content and at the moment they have deemed it legal.

    Nobody can however realistically say that it is not immoral.

    There is a further question that does require an answer and that is as to why online stores such as Amazon and Ebay have not been the subject of Police investigation as they are actively and knowingly allowing products to be sold on their sites.

    Lets not also forget that any Web browser on any Operating system can be used to access the same kind of content, which is in turn provided by all the popular operating systems, so focus on Kodi is not a clear and wide enough focus when it comes to this kind of discussion, which I would expect a company such as Which to provide, bearing in mind that they are supposed to provide an impartial viewpoint.

    Just as is the fact that these media streamers also often come loaded with TV apps that are not connected with Kodi in any way.

    As is the fact that these boxes are also Mini PC’s and therefore have the same functionality as tablets, PC’s, phones and laptops.

  3. Hi guys need a bit of advice got a bush TV HDMI 32inch not on internet at moment changing over as these company are charging too much so wan to go for a kodi box which one is recommended to do most things TV internet WiFi etc would appreciate a bit of advice thanx

    1. Basically, you must have Internet for Kodi as you would for any streaming. Can save you the cost of services like Sky or Virgin media packages.

      Warning though, most of the big Internet providers actively try to block access to Kodi services. Virgin by default now block VPN on their routers, so if you really want to enjoy Kodi best to avoid the traditional big UK Internet providers

    2. You need Internet access to use the device and a simple £25 firestorm will plug into your EXISTING TV ad long as you already have WiFi . You can load kodi from the article above on its official page then search for web add ons to stream what you want .

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