It's never been easier to 'cut the cord' with cable TV. Devices like the Amazon Fire Stick provide plenty of viewing options.

But we VERIFIED that the software that delivers the data has a few holes, and the debate about hacking the Fire Stick has started its own firestorm.

A few tweaks, sometimes mistakenly referred to as 'jailbreaking', allows users to download media players like Kodi, then download a few add-ons, which gives them access to stream pirated material – including movies that are still in theaters.

The phrase is popular among owners, but what's really going on?

The videos are all over YouTube – step-by-step instructions that tell you where to look and what to click to gain access to a whole new world of entertainment.

Since this seems beyond the scope of what the device is "supposed" to be able to do, we wanted to VERIFY: "Is it illegal to download Kodi on a Fire Stick?"

To find out, we contacted Special Agent Vicki Anderson with the FBI, Kit Walsh with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Morgan Reed, President of the App Association and Amazon itself.

The FBI said stealing copyrighted material is illegal, "but it's usually prosecuted civilly."

Morgan Reed from the App Association said downloading Kodi is fine. He added that “Kodi is a great home theater platform at its core. The problem is people have been loading software that is designed almost exclusively for the theft of other people's music and movies.”

PC World defines "jailbreaking" as hacking devices to bypass restrictions that would prevent you from running "unauthorized" software or making other tweaks to your operating system. The instructional video we watched didn't appear to hack anything.

“It's not technically illegal to install that software on a Fire Stick,” said Reed. “It's how you do it, what tools did you use and what is the purpose of those tools.”

Kit Walsh from The EFF says Kodi's software is not the problem. If you download copyrighted material, like the new movie Wonder Woman, you're in trouble. If you "stream" the material, you might be in trouble. The law clearly states that the unauthorized "reproduction, distribution and performance" of copyrighted material is illegal. It's a grey area though if you're just viewing or streaming.

Walsh pointed out that Kodi gives you access to a lot of legal content, too. So, what does Amazon, the manufacturer of the Fire Stick, have to say about all this? Absolutely nothing.

Reed sums it up best. “The question you've really got to ask yourself if you want to know if it’s legal or not, well are you stealing somebody's stuff? If you are, it's probably illegal.”

So, it's not illegal to download Kodi on your Fire Stick. That's VERIFIED. What you do with that software is another story.


  • Special Agent Vicki Anderson with the FBI
  • Kit Walsh with the Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Morgan Reed, President of the App Association


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