Are Android TV Boxes Legal in the USA and UK?

By | July 29, 2017

There’s a lot of issues surrounding Kodi and the add-ons that include illegal streaming so are Android TV boxes legal now? Is IPTV now a threat to cable?

The cable and satellite TV companies are currently waging war on the use of illegal streams due to the copyright infringement and they have already forced legislation through the European courts.

But how does this affect Android TV boxes and can you be prosecuted?


Fully loaded Kodi boxes

Kodi has been around for quite some time now. It was formerly called XBMC (X-Box Media Center) and it could be installed on various media devices including a jailbroken Apple TV.

When Android became popular it made it easier to install and eventually Kodi appeared on the Play Store as an application which could be downloaded and installed.

This encouraged suppliers to start selling these Kodi boxes fully loaded with Kodi. The term “fully loaded” refers to TV boxes that have Kodi pre-installed with various add-ons.

Illegal Streaming

These add-ons include certain streams that show Live TV channels that are not free-to-air and by law require a subscription. These include channels like Sky Sports, BT Sport, Sky Movies etc. in the UK.

In the USA this would also include channels like NFL Network, NBA TV, etc. It’s not just the UK and USA that have copyrighted channels and other countries like Canada and Australia also come into play.

The War on Kodi

It all started in England when Brian Thompson from Middlesbrough was prosecuted for selling fully loaded Kodi boxes. He pleaded not guilty on May 8 at Teesside Magistrates Court and has stated he will go all the way to the European courts to prove his innocence.

These TV boxes were being sold to bars in England and used to view live TV channels that showed PPV events or live football matches. The bar owners are also being prosecuted.

Others have also been on the wrong side of the law and one man was forced to pay a fine of £250,000 and ended up doing a prison stretch too! Consumers in the USA are also facing the same issues if they access illegal content.

Illegal Add-ons

Kodi itself is not illegal. It’s the third party add-ons that contain the illegal content that are facing being closed down. It’s already started happening with some add-ons and we have already lost TVAddons, Phoenix, Exodus and Navi X.

However, you may find a few of the add-ons that have been closed re-appearing with a different name or being installed from a different source on Kodi.

There are also alternatives that provide the same content.

So where does this leave Android TV boxes?

As the war rages on against Kodi, this has had no bearing on the hardware. Android TV boxes are not illegal and are used for a variety of tasks. You can use them for watching TV on subscribed services like Netflix or HULU. They can be used for gaming or accessing other apps like Facebook, Skype, etc.

Even though the authorities are trying to make them illegal they are wasting their time. It’s a bit like trying to outlaw computers or phones because they can access illegal content. After all, an Android box is effectively a computer, as is a phone.

Kodi alternatives

There are several alternatives to Kodi which offer free streaming for TV channels. Apps like Mobdro or Showcase can also be installed on an Android TV box or other device to view illegal content.

These are no different to Kodi and will face the same legal issues that surround any form of IPTV that is used to access TV channels that are subject to copyright in various countries like USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, to name a few.

A paid IPTV subscription won’t get you off the hook and in Thailand there was one such company recently closed down and computers and servers confiscated. Thai Expat TV took this streaming to another level and consumers were using it in the UK to watch Premium TV channels.

If you are unsure of the legalities for viewing any content the least you should do it take steps to protect yourself. People access illegal content all the time so you should be aware of the consequences.

How to protect yourself

In no way am I condoning the use of any of these free TV services to access illegal streams. However, these free TV apps also include free-to-air channels that may or may not be legal in your country.protect-yourself-pic

The authorities can check what you are accessing nowadays with the surveillance powers that they now have. In the UK the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 was rushed through the courts (thanks Theresa May) and they are now entitled to check what you are watching. They can even hack into your device when you are online. And it’s legal!

In the USA your browsing history from your ISP is up for sale to the highest bidder! Where will it all end?

A banner year for VPN companies

To avoid any mishaps it’s time to start using a VPN. This will protect your identity and your IP address will be masked. This year will definitely be a banner year for VPN providers. People like you and I are already using a VPN with Kodi.

However, it’s important to choose a VPN that doesn’t retain data logs. The last thing you want is your browsing history lying around on a server somewhere.

One VPN provider that doesn’t retain your data is PureVPN. A VPN isn’t difficult to use with Kodi. In theory a VPN will steal around 10% of your bandwidth but it can also help with bypassing any throttling by your ISP.

In Malaysia my ISP practice this from time to time but they won’t admit to it of course. When I started using my VPN on various devices I couldn’t believe how it improved my speeds.

A small price to pay?

We spend 100’s if not 1000’s on media devices and entertainment but fail to recognise some of the risks involved. With PureVPN you can get a Premier Subscription for only $2.95 / month!

This will allow you to use it across 5 of your devices simultaneously. TV boxes, phones, computers, tablets, etc. are all compatible and you can use them all with just one account.

You can access servers in 141 different countries and it will also unlock any geo-restricted services and prevent any intrusions from hackers or malware. A no brainer?

==>Get this Special Offer from PureVPN<==

What is the future for Android TV boxes?

I am absolutely convinced that our TV boxes will continue to be legal and it will be impossible for anyone to try and ban them. Amazon and eBay are not selling any Android boxes that are fully loaded with Kodi but it’s easy to install from the Play Store anyway.

Android TV boxes are legal and will continue to be. Of that there is no doubt.

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Please feel free to leave comments below. All will be answered 🙂

Proprietor at UK TV Services Abroad
I am a UK expat who has lived overseas since 1997. I started this website to help fellow expats who are trying to watch UK TV abroad. I built this website for free with the help and support of a wonderful online community. Click here if you want to read my profile. It's free to join and you can build 2 websites for free.

3 thoughts on “Are Android TV Boxes Legal in the USA and UK?

  1. paul

    Hi Craig
    I’m in the Uk. I had kodi on my laptop & noticed all the add ons you have mentioned suddenly not working ! in the end I deleted kodi. Now I know why they stopped working.
    My wife’s Thai & I remember well when the Thai’s shut down the Thai expat tv. They don’t mess over there !!!!
    It’s a real mine field to stay legal. Think i’ll stick to buying dvds ! lol
    Thanks for a great insight

    1. Craig Post author

      Hi Paul,
      Yup it’s only going to get worse too with the new football season about to start. I read yesterday that 5000 servers were shut down last year for showing illegal streams. This year there could be more. A VPN is definitely the way to go, it’s just not worth taking a risk.
      Cheers, Craig

  2. Linda Watson

    I’m so grateful you included the information about how to protect yourself. As cable and Satellite get more and more expensive, these devices are attractive and being used all the time. Who knew you could get in trouble for hundreds of thousands of dollars? Thanks for sharing, some valuable info!

    1. Craig Post author

      Hi Linda, you’re welcome! Glad I could help. Isn’t it odd how cable and satellite prices never come down? The consumers are always the ones to suffer. It’s no wonder we look at other avenues to try and reduce costs. Plus, it’s very difficult to get UK TV when you are overseas so an Android TB box is definitely useful for that.
      Best wishes, Craig.

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