Why I would not put Kodi on an Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Amazon Fire TV Sticks and more recently, Amazon Fire TV Media Players (which as of writing this article (3/22/2017) can currently be purchased for $18/month) have been sold for years, and can be modified to permit the installation and use of the Kodi application.  As many tech savvy guys and gals know, Kodi (formerly XMBC) can be used to add pirated content to be downloaded or streamed using the Kodi app.

Dangers of putting Kodi on an Amazon Fire TV Device

DANGERS OF USING KODI ON A MEDIA DEVICE

The problem with using Kodi on an Amazon Fire TV (or any media device, for that matter) is twofold.

  1. You are using a tracked device that you likely registered to your Amazon.com account.

  2. Kodi when installed on the Amazon Fire Stick uses the wireless connection provided to it, exposing the user to copyright infringement lawsuits.

YOUR AMAZON FIRE TV STICK IS TRACKED BY AMAZON.COM

This is a no-brainer.  To activate the Fire Stick, you need to register it with your Amazon.com username and password.  Amazon knows this device belongs to you, and in a number of cases, it even comes pre-programmed to your Amazon account, so why would you use it to view copyrighted software without a license?

All that would need to happen to sue an Amazon Fire Stick user is for a copyright holder to file a copyright infringement lawsuit against a John Doe, and then have the court authorize expedited discovery to allow the copyright holder to send a subpoena to Amazon.com asking it to disclose the identity of the owner of the Amazon Fire Stick.  Amazon would happily comply just to stop you from using their device to pirate or stream copyrighted content without a license.

Of course, there are ways to factory reset the device or deregister it from your account, but that is outside the scope of this article.

KODI, WHEN INSTALLED ON YOUR AMAZON FIRE TV DEVICE, USES YOUR WIRELESS CONNECTION TO RETRIEVE THE PIRATED CONTENT

When you set up your Amazon Fire TV Stick, you enter your wireless username and password.  That way, your Amazon Fire Stick can connect to the internet automatically as soon as you plug it in.

The problem is that any apps you use (here, Kodi), ALSO USES THAT SAME WIRELESS CONNECTION.  This connection has your real IP address exposed and shared with the internet.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that they can file a copyright infringement lawsuit against the website providing the content, and force it to hand over the web site logs or analytics for a particular page hosting the copyrighted movie you connected to with your exposed IP address when you used your Kodi-enabled Amazon Fire Sitck to view or download that copyrighted movie.  And once they have your exposed IP address, they now have TWO WAYS to sue you in a copyright infringement lawsuit:

  1. Subpoena the ISP who owns that exposed IP address and have them expose the identity of the account holder (the typical way a “John Doe” lawsuit is filed), or
  2. Subpoena Amazon.com to have them expose the account information of the customer who purchased that particular Amazon Fire Stick.

NO, TECHNOLOGY DOES NOT *YET* MAKE IT EASY TO SUE USERS VIEWING ILLEGALLY STREAMED CONTENT

Technology in its current state does not make it easy or convenient for a copyright holder to go through the hassle of suing Icefilms, Putlocker, or any of the MANY providers of copyright-infringing content.  Many of these providers are out of the U.S., and as such, it is difficult (not impossible) to get them to comply with a US-based court order signed by a US federal judge.

Also, it is difficult to determine whether these sites even keep analytics or website logs to determine which IP addresses visit any of the pages on their websites.  As soon as users start getting sued, no doubt these companies will shut off all website logging and analytics, thwarting any copyright holder’s attempts to identify the IP address of the Kodi / Amazon Fire Stick user.

Lastly, it is an uphill battle for a copyright holder to fight a website provider to turn over the website logs exposing who is visiting their websites.  This is why you do not see ANY copyright infringement lawsuits suing John Doe Defendants for the unlawful STREAMING of copyrighted content from software sources such as XBMC or KODI.

For this reason, at the time I am writing this article, I cannot see how a user would realistically be sued for using Kodi on an Amazon Fire Stick.  However, as technology advances and tracking methods improve to the point where a copyright holder will be able to identify the IP address accessing a website containing copyrighted materials, the threat of being sued for streaming content will increase.

Click here for more details on the topic of “Can I be caught and sued for copyright infringement for streaming movies.”

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT POPCORN TIME: Popcorn Time is a piece of software that uses BITTORRENT to acquire the movie title in order to serve it for free to their end user.  Bittorrent lawsuits account for most, if not all of the copyright infringement lawsuits, and thus Popcorn Time (even though it streams movies) is not included under the category of “hard to catch users for infringement.”

COMMON SENSE. DON’T USE KODI ON A FIRE TV STICK.

Even though I just told you that you will likely NOT be sued for using your Kodi-enabled Amazon Fire TV Stick to view pirated content, I still caution strongly against using it without some additional steps.

Why would you use a device that is registered to your name?  Do you think that Amazon.com is your friend and would protect you if they realized you were using their device to pirate movies and music?

And, why would you use a device that could expose your IP address to the world?  Your connection to the internet would create a trackable line between your internet account and the server hosting the pirated content.  Do you really think that your ISP isn’t snooping on you to see whether you are using their bandwidth for legal or illegal purposes?  If somehow copyright holders figure out how to get the list of IP addresses who downloaded or streamed a particular movie, do you really want to risk being sued for $150,000 for copyright infringement?

Common sense.  Even if you will likely not be tracked or caught, DO NOT use devices which connect to the internet without using an encrypted connection.  Your Kodi-enabled Amazon Fire TV Stick is one such device.

WAYS AROUND THE IP ADDRESS EXPOSURE PROBLEM (USING A VPN)

Obviously this article is meant to alert users as to the dangers of using a Kodi-enabled Amazon Fire TV devices.  It is not to teach you how to break the law and enable Kodi on your device. (I cannot believe Amazon is actually selling this ebook).

For common sense purposes, if you are going to do anything that exposes your IP address to the public, use a VPN.  A VPN is a Virtual Private Network which allows an individual to obscure his real IP address by connecting to the content desired by way of one or more servers.  I will not go into how they work here, but for reputable VPN companies who do not keep logs on your activities, TorrentFreak writes a report every so often, and that report is a good resource.

VPNs that keep your identity and your IP address private are PAID VPNs.  Free VPNs have been known to turn over their user’s account information (as have various paid VPNs as well, which is why I suggested TorrentFreak’s list).

If you were willing to learn how to program your router to route your internet connection through your VPN (most VPN providers teach their customers how to do this), then using your Kodi-enabled Amazon Fire TV device would be safe, and a user who uses this method would not need to worry or fear about being sued for connecting to the internet using the Fire Stick.

Of course, keep in mind that it is still a dumb idea to register that same Amazon Fire TV Stick with your real Amazon.com account information.  There might come a time where technology advances to the point where Amazon start ‘not liking’ their users using their Fire Stick for piracy purposes.  Thus, if you were to deregister the Fire Stick, or to purchase it without connecting it to your account (e.g., checking ‘buy it for someone else’) when you check out, that will stop Amazon.com from preprogramming the Fire Stick with your account information.  But still, you should still be cautious using an Amazon Fire Stick with Kodi (even with a VPN) because Amazon themselves might devise a way to track their own devices (if they have not done so already).

IN SUMMARY

In summary, Amazon Fire TV Sticks and better yet, Amazon Fire TV Media Players are wonderful pieces of technology.  I own one, and current Amazon Fire TV Sticks even have Alexa built into them (a cool feature).  With an Amazon Prime Subscription (we replaced our Netflix subscription with this to get the free shipping and other benefits), you can view literally THOUSANDS of videos from the Fire TV Stick or Media Player.

The Fire TV Stick itself is HDMI enabled, which means that it can plug into any old monitor, and that monitor will become an Amazon movie studio.  We can even connect our Bluetooth speakers (think, Amazon Echo or ‘Alexa’) to the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and we have theater-quality movies and binge worthy TV shows, all available to be played in our living room.

If I were a pirate, I would probably NOT put Kodi on my Amazon Fire Stick, even if I set up my router to route all internet traffic through a paid VPN.  I personally simply don’t trust Amazon.com that they will not at some point become proactively ‘anti-piracy’, and I wouldn’t want to be the recipient of a subpoena letter indicating that I was sued for using my Fire TV Stick in an unlawful way.

Nevertheless, if you are a regular reader of the TorrentLawyer website, you would not either.  However, hopefully this article will somehow go out to people searching for “Kodi-enabled Fire TV Sticks,” and we will at least teach them that watching Kodi this way is a bad idea.

Final Note, and Off Topic:  I am not a Roku guy, simply because my Amazon Fire TV was given to me as a gift and I love the device. However, if I were to purchase a device anew, I WOULD probably choose the Roku Premiere+ Streaming Media Player simply because Roku is known to upgrade their devices every year, and Roku is simply a better company focused on making Roku Media Players (similar logic: I would go to a Chinese Food Store to buy Chinese Food). If I was just comparing an Amazon Fire TV Stick (considering that it has Alexa on it) and a plain Roku, since I have do have unlimited Amazon movies through Amazon Prime, and the Amazon Fire TV devices are supposedly faster, I’d stick with the Amazon.  If I did not have Amazon Prime, I’d go with the Roku.  Whichever device I had, however, I WOULD NOT PUT KODI ON IT.

21 thoughts on “Why I would not put Kodi on an Amazon Fire TV Stick.”

  1. How would the copyright holder know that an Amazon fire TV stick had been used to access the copyrighted content?

  2. Just some comments:

    You state “This is a no-brainer. To activate the Fire Stick, you need to register it with your Amazon.com username and password. ”

    It is registered but sideloaded apps are not uploaded to Amazon’s servers and you can untick “Collect App Usage Data”. Amazon would not risk a lawsuit if they breached their app collection agreements. Also, Plaintiff would need your IP address regardless to subpoena you, so they would most likely go after your ISP, not Amazon.

    You said, “Many of these providers are out of the U.S., and as such, it is difficult (not impossible) to get them to comply with a US-based court order signed by a US federal judge.”

    I chuckled at this a bit. If they complied with US Court Orders, I would assume the RIAA and MPAA would have shut them down by now.

    You state “Free VPNs have been known to turn over their user’s account information (as have various paid VPNs as well, which is why I suggested TorrentFreak’s list).”

    That could be true but a free VPN is still pretty safe. Think about it, If you are in Country A, VPN server is in Country B, and VPN company is in Country C, that is a lot of Subpoenas and Countries. A free VPN has so many people on a shared IP and probably zero staff, along with being in another country. If by a miracle all subpoenas were complied with, would the out of Country evidence even be admissable? It is not like you can Cross examine or validate if their evidence is legitimate.

    Torrents they got you dead to rights uploading the file. However, didn’t Judge Posner in Myvidster case poke holes in streaming versus downloading? How many of us unknowingly stream copyrighted Youtube videos.

    Also didn’t a Federal Judge in Washington rule that an IP address is an insufficient proof since IP’s are dynamic and wifi routers can be opened?

    Just my 02 for your reply. However, we all know it is better to be safe than sorry. Or better yet, like I do, use the many legal and also very cheap streaming services.

    1. Ahhhh, I only read half of the article because I had to skip down and find the “comments section” before I had a conniption (sp). But I saw this reply and you said pretty much what I wanted to say (but without the cursing; kudos, sir) except for one thing + a question:

      One thing: Doesn’t anyone else in the world see that the real problem here is the fact that the content is published on media that every Schmoe has, at their disposal, the technology to easily reproduce? It makes the whole thing so stupid.

      Question: Has anyone EVER been convicted of watching something that was publicly available?

      1. For a long time, I thought the answer was no, but after people started getting sued for using Kodi, we learned that it wasn’t the Amazon stick itself or the Kodi software itself that was getting people caught — but rather, the ADD-ONS, some of which use bittorrent to provide access to the copyrighted films. It is the bittorrent protocol that has gotten people caught and sued.

    2. I bought the new firestick that came out in Oct 2017. I know nothing about this device and it’s still in the unopened box. I have no clue how to use it and when I ask someone they always mention 1 of 2 things. It’s either “Jailbreak” or “download Kodi”. Honestly I have done a lot of research on the internet to see how to use it legally and the only searches that come up is the Illegal way. Can someone please help me with how to use this. I bought it because I hate going to movie theaters but really want to watch some movies without going to rent them. We have hulu and netflix and neither have any newer movies.

      Thank you!!

  3. Why does Amazon and Amazon prime sell these TV boxes (not Amazon fire related) and other devices with XMDB or kodi pre-installed? Do a search… They’re all over amazon’s website and fulfilled by Amazon on a lot of them

    1. I have not looked myself, but my best guess is that Amazon sellers and vendors are the ones selling them. Plus, Kodi itself is completely legitimate software. It is only when it is tweaked to add the various “addons” does it turn into a piracy app.

  4. I think it is more common sense that amazon in some sneaky ways is actually on our side. Think about it, if it wasn’t for kodi, no one would really buy their fire sticks. They know what is going on, in other words they are allowing kodi downloads. They really Ldon’t have to allow this like some other sticks. If in fact they are trying to slow this down, it will be in their updates fire sticks, so I think it will be best to stay with the older fire stick. (There is a new one coming In a week) stick with the current one.

    1. There is so much to say with going with older versions of products, and as a general rule, I usually check the updates before updating firmware or buying a newer “version” of a product (which often ends up being a more “locked down” and “restricted” version of what was free or available in the previous version). As far as thinking that Amazon is on our side, be very cautious around them. They are in it 1) to make money, and 2) for power and control.

  5. I came across your article while searching for info about Kodi and the Fire Stick. I have one TV with the stick and kodi, but its rare that I make a through a program without timeouts, or even find a playable stream of anything I want. Now that I have a second TV I think I will look at my options with a factory default stick and avoid future problems.

    1. Obviously using factory settings and approved paid vendors are the proper way to go. However, for those who veer off the straight path, the safest way to use Kodi on a Fire Stick is to route all of the communications [on the router it connects to] through a paid VPN service. Remember, no method is 100% and even VPNs experience DNS leaks which expose your true IP address.

    1. No activation (registration is a better word) unless you purchase it from Amazon.com. And then, even if you do not register it or activate it with your Amazon username and password, they still link that device as being purchased from your account.

  6. Then answer this for us:

    Why did Amazon allow the feature of “DEVELOPER OPTIONS” on their devices? There is no untoward tampering with the device, just some simple clicks that Amazon FEATURES on their AFTV devices. 2 Clicks allow it to download “web scrapers” which copy NOTHING.

    If Amazon didn’t want people “modding out their devices” they could have opted to NOT allow “DEVELOPER OPTIONS” on their devices.

    Rather like the “RECORD” button on a VCR. Even the Supreme Court asked “what is the “RECORD” button for if it violates copyright to record ANYTHING that’s televised? Good question………..

  7. Everyone has an opinion. Before you start deleting kodi and your add-ons why not take a close look at the history of Napster? Research the amount of people who actually had to pay the fines that they received and also research how many people actually went to jail.Technology never goes backwards. Sadly, many of the people commenting do not understand the definition of streaming, end users or even property and proprietary rights.No one has exact numbers on the amount of people streaming protected material everyday on their phones, computers etc. The reason for that is simple, we all do it whether we are aware of it or not. We all know that law firms will jump at the opportunity to sue even if they know they cannot win. Especially, when they could bilk the pockets of Charter, NBC, ABC etc. So, why aren’t they? Simple, the networks know it is a waste of monies and that the law firms will lose in court.
    We are living in the “growing pains” of companies and our government accepting free media for all.
    Consider this, since the explosion of kodi and add-ons many networks and phone companies have began to offer lifetime reduced rates, free premium channels with your phone service etc. These are all positive effects of the ease of accessibility to add-ons.
    As I mentioned, everyone has an opinion so here is mine.
    In the near future we will all see free basic cable, pay extra for no commercials and certain a la carte items. To that I say, about time. Next, lets do the same thing to the utilities and make it where every child and adult has basic utilities without going broke or starving.

    1. That is entitlement in its highest form. Services cost because of the value of what they are producing. Without value their is no reason to produce the item, especially movies that cost 100s of millions of dollars to produce, distribute and market….all for you to debase and steal?

  8. It’s not Kodi that’s the problem, it’s the add-ons that people use on kodi that are the problem!

    Kodi is just a media player. There is no copyright infringement simply by using a media player- what is important is what you access with the media player…

  9. The point of this is its just wrong. I had kodi installed by a friend for Christmas and I used it for a couple months. The truth is I always felt as if I was stealing and whether I get caught or not I am not going to give up my honor and integrity for some free movies. God rescued me from a very sorded and bankrupt life and I am not a thief anymore. While it was hard to resist and very convenient, its just not right and affected my conscience. If its legal and legite as my friend described then why doesnt the law admit that and why don’t movie stars and production companies work for free. This is criminal and a downfall to our society to do this or even question it. I mean would you steal cable? Because thats a serious offense and jailable and this is far worse. The programs that my friend gave me had all the movie channels, cashes of the best shows and movies, many pay per view channels…..its not lawful, its actually theft and stealing whether you are caught or not. Its no different than justifying stealing groceries from Walmart. You are taking a product that obviously holds a value for you or you wouldn’t use it, and justifying the means to have it at no cost regardless of the cost it takes to manufacture and produce future productions. Btw Napster was the introduction to the fall of music production, it will never be the same. Just because it is possible to get away with and common doesn’t make it right or justifiable. If its worth watching then respectively pay for the cost or wait for it to be so old you can find it for nearly free. Btw guilt trip should happen by my post, guilt is a healthy result of doing something wrong and stealing someone of value from someone that hasn’t given you permission or rights it violates their rights and infringes on their freedom to produce and create art that is talented and costly. Its ok to make mistakes but justifying theft is a choice and not a right.

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