Kodi continues to be one of the most popular means to watch online movies, TV shows, and live events, despite a deluge of adverse publicity and legal threats over the use of unofficial addons.
Now, Crimestoppers, the well-known crime website and anonymous reporting service, has taken aim too, with illegal streaming devices being the subject of one of four videos they have uploaded for users to view over the holiday period.
Users of unofficial Kodi addons have endured a turbulent year with many popular addons and repositories disappearing for good. And while new ones have popped up to replace them, the concerted effort to stop their growth shows no signs of dying down.
Indeed, even Kodi itself is supporting the move, noting in a recent blog post that the crackdown was “a good thing” and also indulging in a recent Twitter spat with popular repository TV Addons, whose developers are about to face a court challenge.
British newspaper the Daily Express recently commissioned a survey to see how the crackdown was affecting Kodi users. They found just over half were put off from streaming copyrighted content on Kodi, while the rest had no plans to change their viewing habits.
But the crackdown still continues and now Crimestoppers has weighed in too.
Crimestoppers muddies the water
The message Crimestoppers is trying to deliver is that anyone who watches copyrighted content through an unofficial addon on Kodi is breaking the law. The crux of their message is a request for people to report those who are selling fully-loaded Kodi boxes or uploading copyrighted content onto the internet.
The law is quite clear that both of these acts are against the law in the UK and plenty of people have already been convicted of criminal offences for doing both. But in delivering that message, Crimestoppers has quite deliberately set out to unnerve those who use unofficial Kodi addons quite innocently.
“We want to make you aware that you are breaking the law if you stream content from illegal apps and add-ons… It is not a grey area,” they say in the associated blog post.
“From movies that have not been released yet in the UK, TV programmes that haven’t aired yet or that are only being shown on subscription channels, to pay-per-view offerings, and subscription sports channels. If other people pay for the content you are watching for free, then you are watching illegally.”
This is not strictly true, and it is rather irresponsible of Crimestoppers to muddy the water in this way.
While it is unquestionably illegal to download copyrighted content, the law on streaming such content is less clear. Indeed, European law at present suggests that because the data is not retained on a users device when streaming, it is in fact not illegal at the moment.
Copyright holders are working hard to close this loophole, but that is how the law stands at the present moment.
Kodi security risks
One point on which Crimestoppers is 100% correct about is the potential security risks of using unofficial Kodi addons.
“Streaming illegal content also leaves you open to cybercriminals accessing your device and data,” they say, and this is true. Kodi is open-source software and most developers are anonymous. There is nothing to stop them using addons to deliver spyware, malware, and other nasty programmes to your device.
It is not common, but they have been examples of this happening before and no doubt will be again. As such, it is imperative that Kodi users take steps to protect themselves from these security risks while streaming content.
Stay safe on Kodi with a VPN
But there is a simple and effective way to protect yourself from both the security risks and legal implications of using unofficial Kodi addons. And that is to be sure to use a VPN.
Because a VPN encrypts all of your internet data, it means everything you do online is secure and encoded. And by changing your IP Address, a VPN also makes it much harder to link your online activity directly back to your own internet connection.
It is highly recommended for all Kodi users to deploy a VPN such as IPVanish or ExpressVPN when streaming content. And as the crackdown on unofficial addons continues, this advice has never been more important.