Is Kodi legal?
The short answer is yes, but it’s not that simple. If you stick to official channels and services, Kodi is a useful, powerful, and completely legal streaming system for content.
The problem is that that’s not how most people use Kodi. There are countless third-party plugins and programs like Exodus that allow you to stream illegal content off of Kodi. Other services focus on sports and pay-per-view content. Kodi is trying to shut down down nefarious plugins, but its open-source nature—meaning that anyone has access to the program’s code—essentially turns the issue into a game of Whack-A-Mole: As soon as one plugin is blocked, another one crops up in his place. There’s no way for Kodi to fully stop piracy from occurring on the system without locking it down completely, and that would detract from the program’s main appeal: the ability to modify it as you see fit. (Third-party plugins can be found by searching for specific websites within the Kodi app. We’re purposefully not linking to them here.)
You’ve been streaming sports and movies on your Kodi media center, without realizing that, actually, you probably shouldn’t. But now the penny has dropped, and you want to move on. Is it time to dump your Kodi box (which is still legal to own and use), or can you still enjoy your favorite movies, TV shows, music, podcasts, and sport?
Cull the Add-ons
This isn’t a quick task either, sadly. You’ll need to boot your Kodi device, and run through every single add-on to confirm whether it works or not. And if it does work, check that it is offering content legally.
Here’s a clue: if movies and TV shows are being streamed and you’re not paying for them, you should uninstall the add-on.
To uninstall your unwanted Kodi add-on, browse to the Add-ons > My Add-ons menu and select the add-on in question. In the next screen, find the Uninstall button, and click or tap it. Confirm your decision and wait a moment for the add-on to be removed. You’re done!
What are the best legal addons for Kodi?
Downloading add-ons for Kodi is a simple as scrolling down to the Add-ons menu, but finding the best ones can be more of a hassle. There are a ton of options available. You should be able to easily find things like YouTube on the front page of the Add-ons menu, but to find the other good stuff, you’ll need to look in the Add-on Repository. To access the repository go to Settings -> Add-ons -> Install from repository -> Kodi Add-on Repository.
Once inside you’ll see hundreds of options to choose from. Here are our favorites, but you can find a complete list here.
Dbmc: This add-on allows Kodi to access your Dropbox account, letting you stream any music, video, or picture file you’re currently storing on the service. For users who can’t plug a USB into their device, this is a great way to stream your own content.
South Park: You can easily access SouthPark.cc, the website that lets you watch all of South Park.
Food Network: Stream your favorite shows off of the Food Network website. While you’ll miss out on full seasons, the Food Network add-on serves up heaping helpings of great content.
Emby: Emby is a media management server that synchronizes your media libraries across your compatible devices. If you’re streaming something from Kodi on your phone, then jump to Kodi on your Amazon Fire stick, Emby will make sure you pick up where you left off. Setting it up can be a little complicated, so make sure you follow the complete steps from its wiki entry.
Crackler: Crackle offers some of the best free content online, from original movies to classic TV shows. This addon will keeping you knee deep in content for the foreseeable future.
Find Official and Legal Add-ons
If you’ve got anything left over, it’s probably things like YouTube, or some podcast channels. This is fine: you’re on the right track to using Kodi without attracting any unwanted attention from the feds. You won’t have difficulty finding legal add-ons offering quality content, either.
The vast majority of add-ons that you can trust to deliver legally-sourced content can be found in the official Kodi Add-on repository. A comprehensive list can be found in the Kodi wiki.
However, you certainly should not be without the following:
- ESPN 3 (valid subscription required)
- Plex for Kodi (Plex Pass required)
These can be found in My Add-ons > Add-on Repository, where the Kodi Add-on repository should be enabled. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have access to the full selection of safe add-ons via Add-ons > Download > Video add-ons (and other categories too).
Add Storage to Your Kodi Box
Have you purchased movies and boxsets that you wish to watch on Kodi? You have several options here. The simplest is to just browse Kodi until you find the
droids media you’re looking for.
To do this, open the Movies screen (or TV shows, Music, or Music videos) then Enter Files. Here, click Add Videos (or TV shows, etc.) and Browse to the directory where you media is stored, clicking OKto finish. You’ll then be prompted to scan for metadata related to the media files — descriptions, DVD covers and movie posts, etc. This will happen automatically as long as your Kodi box is connected to the internet, using a pre-installed add-on.
Meanwhile, if you’re one of the many people using a compact Android-based Kodi box, or a Raspberry Pi running OpenELEC or OSMC, then a physical drive should be attached via USB. This can be a USB flash device or an external hard disk (or solid state drive). This is also an option for PCs and laptops.
Note that on low-power devices, the external storage will probably require its own power supply.
Once connected, you should be able to find media on the device via Kodi. Use the same steps as above, using Browse to find the external device rather than a local directory.
Enjoy Video and Music From Remote Sources
If an external hard disk drive isn’t an option (perhaps you’re using an Amazon Fire Stick, or your Android based Kodi box is short on USB ports) then you can stream media from remote sources on your local network.
To add a network resource to stream media from, you’ll need to first ensure that device is visible on your local network. This is usually straightforward; if you’re accessing a NAS, for instance, its purpose is to be visible. If you’re trying to access data from a public drive on a Windows PC, our guide to Windows network shares will help you.
Adding the device means once again heading to the Movies screen (or the TV shows screen, etc.), clicking Add Videos and identifying the network share you want. Click OK, then select the share to find the right directory and click Add.
Kodi Is Awesome No Matter How You Use It
The free-for-all is over. It’s the end of an era — but that doesn’t mean that it is the end of Kodi. Everything you need to enjoy video and audio content (TV, movies, your music collection, podcasts, and even photos) is built into Kodi. Using Kodi legally is simple:
- Remove add-ons streaming copyrighted content without permission.
- Only use official (legal) add-ons.
- View your own movies from a USB device.
- Stream content over your home network from another PC or NAS box.
All of this is confusing.
Indeed it is.
But to sum up: Kodi in its unaltered form is perfectly legal, but certain add-ons do blur things.
If you’re already comfortable with watching streams on websites such as Putlocker, then using Kodi with particular add-ons is no different.
If you aren’t, it’s worth steering clear of many of Kodi’s most popular extensions.
It doesn’t matter whether Kodi is installed on your main PC, a HTPC, an Amazon Fire stick, your game console, or even on an Android box or Raspberry Pi. Take these steps to make sure your Kodi media center is legal, and start enjoying it the right way.
Are changes to how Kodi can be used turning you away from the software or are you happily embracing the change? What’s your preferred way to access content you already own? And what are you preferred official add-ons? Please let us know in the comments below.