Paid Kodi clone gets approved for the Fire TV — WTF Amazon?

Just over a month after Amazon unfairly removed the official Kodi app from the Amazon Appstore for the false reputation of “fascilitating piracy”, today one of the unofficial Kodi clones has been approved for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick appstore. To make matters worse, this Kodi clone, which Amazon is negligently promoting by approving it to the realtively small Fire TV appstore, is ripping off users by charging $2.99 for what appears to be just the free Kodi app.

I haven’t tried the app because I refuse to support paid Kodi clones, but from the screenshots and description it appears to be the stock Kodi app, with no extra value added over the free version of Kodi. The clone appears to have a functioning addon manager, which is essentially the reason Kodi was removed by Amazon. Many piracy services have created unofficial addons which turn Kodi into a means to view pirated content. The Kodi team does not condone or support these piracy addons, and have been actively taking down listings that promote Kodi as a way to view pirated content.

There have always been several Kodi clones in the Amazon appstore for Android. While it’s nonsensical for them to be allowed to remain in the appstore while the official Kodi app was removed, it’s down right absurd for one of them to be approved for the Fire TV appstore when even the official Kodi app was never allowed the privilege. It’s unlikely this Kodi clone will last very long as an approved Fire TV app, but the fact it was even approved in the first place shows some sloppy inconsistency with Amazon’s app approval process. #freeKodi


8/4 8:30 am PT: The app just increased its price from $2.99 to $3.99
8/4 10:25 am PT: The app has now been completely removed from the Amazon appstore.

  1. RgnKjnVA says:

    Uhhhh doesn’t this make Amazon complicit in the “facilitating piracy”?! Or have they somehow castrated Kodi available in their store? Bizarre moves out of Amazon of late regardless.

  2. Justin says:

    This is why I think Amazon isn’t really giving this much attention. They don’t seem consistent on how they are handling Kodi or media players that supposedly facilitate piracy. Could be different guys in the same department tasked with approving apps who have completely different ideas of what is allowed.

    If you’re going to ban media apps that could potentially be used for piracy ban every media app that allows plugins. Don’t allow a ripoff paid version of kodi while banning a free version. Don’t allow Plex and deny Kodi.

    Amazon management needs to make a clear and consistent ruling on this. They should just allow Kodi. Google which made android fully approved Kodi for both android tv and any mobile android devices so amazon just looks foolish banning it.

    • pmcd says:

      Google may have approved Kodi but Google has a terrible reputation almost media ownership it comes to copyright issues. I don’t think they are the example to follow. Kodi is not approved by Apple, Amazon, Microsoft,etc… It allows for circumventing audio playback restrictions on the AFTV. I think we should be happy that we can still sideload it.

      Plex uses the Amazon playback system which is problem why it is so terrible on the Fire TV. It does not supper from the same negative reputation that XBMC has developed.

      Like it or not XBMC/Kodi has become know for piracy of video, TV and almost anything out there. Might be why the Pivos people went with a different name.

      Amazon is not going to allow it no matter what a group of anonymous fans say. Keep it up and we’ll lose the misleading capability. Insist that Plex be treated the same way and we’ll lose that do.

      • Ned Scott says:

        It’s not just Google that likes Kodi. Here’s some other big companies that like Kodi: Nvidia, Dell, Intel (Intel has Kodi install guides on their website for some of their mini PCs. Really.), Zotac, Valve, the Raspberry Pi Foundation (not really a big company, but they do have their own reputation on the line and a few million customers), Silicon Dust, Sigma Designs, and probably a few others I’m forgetting.

        Microsoft actually wants us in their application store, but that would require a lot of recoding (basically a port in itself) to use the newer Windows APIs. Maybe it will happen in the future, if our devs want to take up the challenge.

        The Amazon Fire TV is already licensed for the various audio codecs at the hardware level (at least Dolby).

        Pivos went with a different name because some of their employees were apart of Team XBMC/Kodi, and knew about the XBMC name change ahead of the general public. This was long before a new name was chosen, so they played it safe and made their own new name right away so they could market it and build it as a brand, etc. Plus, having their own brand like that allows them to stand out in the crowd of Android TV devices.

        Plex isn’t horrible on the Fire TV because they use some Amazon video API, and I’m fairly sure Amazon doesn’t even have their own player API. Why would they, when Android has mediacodec (which is what Kodi also uses)? Plex is horrible on the Fire TV because it is lagging behind the normal Plex for Android client. Maybe due to a lack of resources from the Plex guys (they have a lot of clients to maintain, after all)?

        Kodi has become known for “piracy” in large part thanks to companies like Amazon. Ebay and Amazon are the two largest sources of hardware that markets Kodi as a “free TV and movie” magic device. Our rename is less than a year old. Maybe if this was any other company, you might have a point about Amazon looking out for their own reputation due to Kodi’s unfortunate situation, but Amazon is specifically part of the problem.

        • pmcd says:

          Thank you for the really valuable information. I really want to make it clear that I was only talking about the reputation that XBMC acquired and not the developers or the program itself. It’s very rare to see a Kodi box advertised as an excellent media delivery system as opposed to the ultimate cord cutter box with free this and that. And you see this, as you note, even on Amazon’s site.

          I am a bit uncertain about the DTS and Dolby audio issues. There is the pass through issue and the downmix one ( where AC3 or DTS audio will be turned into playable streams even without higher end audio equipment). I don’t think the AFTV can do this with its build in media player. Plex and other players available in the store can’t but somehow a side loaded Kodi does. I assume it is not using the native player capabilities but I could be wrong.

          It certainly does seem that the Plex folks have taken on a lot of clients. A number are very good but the AFTV one is just terrible.

          Interesting that Microsoft would be open to Kodi. I do hope that happens.

  3. Pete says:

    They don’t seem to be giving it much attention and are inconsistent because it is probably a problem for a single-digit percentage of their users. The general user base for Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, as well as the tablets is not going to give a rat’s behind about Kodi or a couple of apps that slid through the review process.

    I consider myself a power user, but I don’t use Kodi so I really can’t say I get fired up over this stuff either to be honest. I guess if I used it I would, but I don’t – just like most every other Fire TV user.

  4. bob wagner says:

    Does anything more need to be said about AMAZON and the way they make decisions?

    Try being a seller on that site and getting logical and consistent responses from their teams of mindless robots.

    What a waste.

  5. Wakey says:

    IMHO Kodi’s problem was the forum where the addon section openly trod a narrow line. They had things like the NBC Sports Extra plugin which allowed viewing of the content without a cable subscription which they justified allowing using the ‘NBC should have had better security on the stream’ and there are other such Addons that skate that kind of line.

    • Ned Scott says:

      Such add-ons that provide legal content due to a blunder on the provider are actually super rare. Even NBC closed that hole after only a few months, and they were horribly lazy with their streams. There wasn’t any security on the streams themselves, no DRM or any authorization checks, and it was only on the web UI and smartphone apps that required the login. That would be like Netflix hosting movies via URLs anyone can visit, but you can only see the URLs once you log into Netflix.

      However, like I said, these kinds of situations are rare, and are not at all why there is this issue with Amazon. The Kodi/Amazon issue is because of actual piracy accusations, not “oops” exploits.

      • Wakey says:

        Is that really an excuse for allowing it on the official forum? While I will openly admit I used even if they lacked security its still piracy, most of the people using it knew it was piracy, the developer would know it was piracy and certainly Kodi should do. After all it doesn’t need protected for it to be copyrighted which is why we can now buy music without DRM from all the major digital music stores. And its not the only addon doing the same thing thats on the forum, the US VOD one for example gives access to content that in a browser or any other device requires authentication

        And there are also addons for programmes like SickBeard, SabNZBd, Pneumatic which all provide frontends for applications that can aid in piracy.

        It just seems to me that Kodi at times seems to sail too close to the edge for its own good and for us users of it. Companies that get away with their software being in the grey area usually get away with it by taking a hard line so they can make a public stand saying ‘We disprove of the software being used in this way’ but Kodi seems to take a wishy washy stand point. The official site should just be so above board that its not made easy for content owners to take a stand and put pressure on platforms to pull the software and let all the more suspect addons find a new home with no connection to Kodi itself

  6. Gregory says:

    Well if Amazon is getting a slice of the take on the app it starts to make more sense.

  7. Hammond Ehgs says:

    Amazon is a monolithic behemoth with a single goal. Money. Their house brand electronics are nothing but marketing tools in (a very thin) disguise. Don’t like it? They don’t care. Send it back, some other schmuck will buy it. Or they’ll throw it away. They’ve ruined the retail market and are steadily working their way through as many other areas as they can until everything is bought through Amazon, one way or another.
    F ’em.

  8. Samson says:

    App has been removed from store.

  9. Smokey says:

    So let’s have some fun with Amazon. On behalf of Kodi. What if a hydra happens. 1000 unmodified copies of Kodi applied for approval in the app store. Off to do some research.

  10. pastorvor says:

    Why Kodi gives a crap what “People” think of them is beyond me. As long as Kodi (XBMC) is the best media program available it will be attacked by the people it competes with as a “Piracy” app. There is no getting around that, so embrace it. Don’t promote it, but don’t avoid it either. Screw Amazon and Google. Make the best app possible and quit trying to meet an impossible, constantly moving standard.

    • Ned Scott says:

      It actually becomes an issue in ways we never imagined. For example, it runs the risk of legitimate groups and companies not working with us on code. Most of our major developers are known by their real names when they work on Kodi, and that comes up when they apply for jobs in their personal lives. Imagine what would happen if a potential employer firmly believes that Kodi is a “piracy app”, and one of their major contributors wants a job? (never underestimate how dumb the HR department is)

      It can even be an issue with money. Kodi might be free, but we rely on thousands of dollars worth of sponsorships and donations to operate servers, developer meet ups, test hardware, and more. What if PayPal decides to freeze our donation accounts, or our hosting sponsors don’t want to risk supporting “pirates”? Even the XBMC Foundation’s tax status/situation could be a major issue if some IRS auditor thought we were making money off of pirated movies.

      In principal I agree with you. Who cares what other people think? However, in the real world it actually matters.

  11. Someone says:

    Hahaha…i like your style & I love the FireTV!
    I’m rooted, so not much will bother me but…I love freedom!
    So keep being a rebel!

  12. Vanb says:

    Honestly, as long as I can do what I want with my Fire TV box, I couldn’t care less whether Amazon officially supports Kodi. I know that that’s not fair to the XBMC Foundation who haven’t really done anything wrong, but I’m really not interested in rocking the boat here. Aggravate them, and they will make a point to figure out a way to prevent anyone from side loading it. If the general public can’t figure out how to side load Kodi to the Fire TV like the rest of us, then that’s their problem. If the Fire TV ends up losing ground down the road to something like the Nexus Player or some other Android streaming box that allows the Google Play Store (and by default allows Kodi), because newbies want an easy way to download and install Kodi, then that’s Amazon’s problem. I’m content to leave the headache of this situation where it belongs.

    The app is gone now. So, there’s really nothing to be done. I think that it’s clear that Amazon is going to keep making odd decisions in part to protect their proprietary stuff and in part due to the partnerships that they’ve formed with Hollywood and others who assert their preferences into the decision making process. Other than protesting with your wallet, I’m not sure what else anyone here could do. I have nothing to protest, because I can still do what I want. Get back to me if they start actively preventing people from tweaking their hardware.

    • Ned Scott says:

      I think it’s not so much that people are bothered by this specific situation, as much as it is a hilarious facepalm situation that makes Amazon look stupid ;)

      • H*** G R****** says:

        Exactly. Installing Kodi on the AFTV is a piece of piss compared to every other platform, with the arguable exception of Android TV (and that’s only going to give you one build).

        ADBFire + Firestarter + APK = too easy.

  13. bob wagner says:

    Brilliantly said, Ned Scott. You remain a most respected spokesman for and all the folks who love this program.

    Thanks for all you do!

  14. shwru980r says:

    With Plex, the unsupported add-ons are installed on the Plex server. Amazon is only selling the Plex client.

  15. Brenque says:

    I want to be absolutely clear: Piracy is bad for everybody (There is so much that can be said about that, but this is a subject for another time).

    You can use your computer browser to watch or listen to pirated contents (In general, lots of tools are misused: Guns…), but should computer manufacturers ban all browsers because they facilitate piracy?

    Kodi is the best Media Center you’ll find anywhere. If you are in this forum, my guess is you already knew that. before I discovered XBMC, I had spent months of my spare time coding my personal media center that never actually worked right (I am an Engineer, not a programmer per se , but I do know a great deal about coding). I don’t think people really appreciate the amount of work that goes into producing a media center such as Kodi. I would like to think the Kodi team from the bottom of my heart.

    As an Amazon prime member who consumes a lot of their products (I could never get into fireTV or tablet though), I may have to rethink my options if they declare an all out war on Kodi. Some of us do possess legitimate contents.

  16. WakeUP says:

    I advise each of you on here to go check out Kodi License and do some research on GPLV2 license. Free software doesn’t mean free as in not paying for it, but free as in having the freedom to manipulate the source code to your liking and sell object code for a sum. This is all approved by Kodi and the free software foundation given Kodi credits stays in place and the source code is hand to every person you distribute the software to.

  17. WakeUP says:

    In addition, the reason why Amazon ‘may’ have allowed a paid version rather than a free version; could be because the paid version offers their own support(documentation, videos etc) which takes the load off kodi community.

    Just my thoughts.

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