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Poll: Do you Kodi?

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February 10th, 2017

Thomas Ricker

Look, I understand that piracy is a moral gray area for many Verge readers. Although it's intellectual property theft, there are times when even the most noble among us urgently needs to download a music track for their big-tricks home video compilation (because Spotify can't help with that). Or maybe you want to sample Game of Thrones before shelling out cash to HBO on the regular. I get it. But how many of you have gone all in? I'm talking about Kodi.

I'll admit to hacking Kodi's open-source media server onto a $40 Amazon Fire TV Stick over the holidays. I then delved into the world of third-party add-ons with names like Exodus, BOB Unrestricted, and SportsDevil. It was enlightening, but also a huge pain in the ass to find working streams compared to firing up Netflix or one of the other video services I subscribe to. Thing is, my subscriptions don't offer DVD Screeners and HDCAM videos of films still in theaters, or access to seemingly every live sporting event being televised around the world. Assuming you can find working sources, that is.

To be clear, Kodi is perfectly legal, it's the third-party add-ons that create the issues while simultaneously raising Kodi's visibility and demand. In that way it's similar to BitTorrent: the platform itself is benign, but an entire industry has emerged to abuse it.

Kodi was in the news this week after five people were arrested for selling fully loaded "Kodi boxes." Those little HDMI sticks allegedly earned the pack some £250,000 (over $310,000) in the process. I'm aware of similar practices in the US, too, with sellers marking up Kodified Fire TV Sticks to $60, $80, or even $100, with eager buyers snapping them up for the promise of "free" everything. That makes me think the UK bust is just the tip of this iceberg.

So how about you, dear reader? Ever try Kodi?

Update Feb 11th, 5:16AM: Story updated to be clear that Kodi as a platform is perfectly legal. It's the third-party plug-ins that are responsible for the illegal streams.