Amazon has drawn a line in the sand on piracy by banning the popular Kodi media player from its app store.
Kodi, an open-source program formerly known as XMBC, disappeared from the Amazon Appstore last week. When the Kodi team asked for an explanation, Amazon emailed several days later to explain that the app “can be used to facilitate the piracy or illegal download of content,” AFTVnews reports .
Keep in mind that Kodi doesn’t come with any illegal content. Out of the box, it’s simply a way to view video and music files, either on the device itself or streamed over a local Wi-Fi network. You can certainly use Kodi to watch illegally-downloaded movies or ripped DVDs, but in that regard it’s no different from Plex, another popular media app that Amazon welcomes in its store. And while Kodi offers a list of add-ons for streaming Internet music and video, none of its built-in options come from pirated sources.
Perhaps the sticking point for Amazon involved the more illicit add-ons that you can acquire from outside the main Kodi app. These add-ons, such as Phoenix and Genesis, pull in copyrighted movies and TV shows from various web sources for extremely easy access. But again, Kodi doesn’t include these add-ons in its app. Installing them involves downloading the add-ons to a computer, transferring them to the Kodi device, and then loading them up within the Kodi software.
That seems like a fine distinction to make—after all, any web browser or file manager can facilitate piracy on some level—though it’s worth noting that Amazon has made similar judgments in the past. The Appstore is now clean of emulators (apparently banned in the last year or so) and apps for downloading torrent files.
Meanwhile, Google doesn’t seem to have any issue with letting these apps in its Google Play Store for Android. In fact, an official version of Kodi just arrived on Android last week, complete with Android TV support.
The impact on you at home: While the move makes Amazon’s position on pirate-friendly apps clear, it won’t have much practical effect if you’re tech-savvy enough to use Kodi and install outside add-ons. Sideloading Android apps onto Amazon Fire tablets isn’t much more complicated, and even before the ban, you still had to sideload Kodi onto Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. While you’re at it, you can even pick up a customized version with all the legally questionable add-ons pre-loaded.