Is anyone in trouble for using a jailbroken Firestick? Here is what I have found during research.
Nobody has been in an incident involving jailbroken Firestick; however, it doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Although jailbreaking a Firestick is legal but streaming copyright content using it is not (up to 5 years in jail and the possibility of a fine of
$250,000). However, historically, police have pursued distributors, not the end-users.
You’re doing this if you’re streaming content and not hosting it or earning money by streaming the content (“commercial streaming”). You’re likely to secure it at the moment.
What is it that you mean by jailbreak a Firestick?
The term ” jailbreak” is a bit mysterious; however, it’s a fairly widespread practice in technology that removes the software limitations imposed by the device.
It allows you to install extensions, applications, and other programs not normally allowed in the default version.
Jailbreaking allows users to install applications or extensions for Amazon Firestick, not in the Amazon App Store.
It sounds great. However, do you know if it’s legal?
Is jailbreaking a Firestick legal?
Yes, jailbreaking a Firestick is legal. Technically, it is covered in the area of “Fair Use”, as it is stated in an updated version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA “).
In the past, firms have argued that the jailbreaking of their gadgets must be illegal since altering an operating system “leads to creating an infringing derivative work protected under copyright law.”
The main argument was that if you allow people to mess around with our proprietary software, it will be an alternative product.
It is understandable why these companies took this attitude, and they were trying to maintain their fence intact.
However, exemptions to the DMCA are reviewed every three years for these users. In 2010, Congress declared that some “jailbreaking” practices were exempt under the law. Since then, more exempted jailbreaking exemptions have been included in the list, such as streaming devices.
However, the fact that jailbreaking devices are legal doesn’t mean that they’re secure.
Is jailbreaking a Firestick risk-free?
Amazon spends lots of money and effort to ensure they are sure that their Firestick is safe and secure and that their app store only has secure and safe applications.
Once you jailbreak the Firestick, the operating system is vulnerable.
For example, if you want to start installing apps outside the Amazon eco-system, these apps may contain malware that can take your personal information.
Additionally, apps outside of Amazon’s App Store aren’t usually optimized to work on your Firestick. They could result in your Firestick crashing or freezing and other serious instability issues.
Another danger when jailbreaking your Firestick is the lack of updates to the software.
Amazon frequently issues updates for the Firestick software, mainly when security flaws are discovered or exposed.
When you jailbreak the device, your Firestick isn’t receiving the software updates.
Are streaming services legal?
Streaming content is simply watching or listening to content that’s not completely downloaded onto devices. When you stream online, you’re using the internet to access the content; however, it is on an individual server or computer.
If you purchase streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube TV, it’s legal to stream.
When you start using a device connected to the internet to stream illegal content, things become a problem(i.e. the person who owns the content has not been granted permission to use the content, or copyright laws protect the contents).
To be clear, jailbreaking a Firestick to stream content with copyright is illegal. This is considered a criminal copyright infringement and technically punishable with five years of federal jail with a fine of up to $250,000. This is even without financial profit!
However, the truth is that when you’re home with your wife and children and you stream a film illegally, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll suffer any penalties.
Streaming could also constitute copyright violations when people make a ” public performance” of unauthorised work or present the streamed material to many users (according to Copyright Office).
For example, suppose the bar you frequent uses an unpatched Firestick to stream pirated movies and promotes the night’s movie to attract customers. That is certainly illegal and likely to attract the attention of the police.
However, outside of “public performances”, streaming videos on the internet generally goes unpunished regardless of the website.
It’s much more likely for media and government agencies to take action against those who download and redistribute media on a massive scale to be used for consumption by the public and commercial profit.
The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020
The US government is so determined to crack down on those trying to profit from illegally streaming content that they have passed the new statute in the 2020 year.
The law substantially increases the criminal sanctions for people who “willfully and for commercial advantage or private financial gain, illegally stream copyrighted material”.
In the past, streaming illegally for profit was considered an offence of misdemeanour; under the new law, the DOJ could bring criminal charges against the providers (as opposed to the users) of these illegal services.
The message is simple If you’re planning to stream illegal content, it is important to ensure that you’re not making money from it!
People are getting in trouble for jailbroken Firesticks
After hours of investigation, I couldn’t find any instance of a single United States streamer getting in trouble with the law.
The closest instance I could locate was in the UK, in which around 250 people were detained and were fined for signing up to a streaming service that provided the users with a single-stop shop for a variety of well-known streaming services: Netflix, Sky, Amazon Prime Video, Mediaset Premium and Dazn.
However, purchasing an illegal subscription isn’t the same as using a jailbroken Firestick to stream illegal content.
Every US news story reported regarding streaming, and jailbroken Firesticks has something to do with people trying to make money.
- In 2012, a Michigan man was arrested on charges of copyright violations that were criminally committed to his website that streamed illegally live sporting events and pay-per-view shows on the Internet.
- 2019 8 defendants were indicted for operating two of the biggest illegal streaming and TV platforms within the United States (“Jetflicks” and “iStreamItAll”)
- In 2020 4 people were taken into custody by undercover detectives who were the alleged sale of “jailbroken” Amazon Fire TV Sticks.
The most interesting thing about this instance is that the Sheriff who was on the case publicly stated that “any consumer caught using one (a jailbroken Firestick) in their home would face a misdemeanour”.
Using a VPN with jailbroken a Firestick
The majority of users that jailbreak their Firestick will set it up using a VPN. VPN refers to Virtual Private Network.
When you connect to a VPN, your IP address is hidden from other websites and search engines trying to collect your personal information. Since your IP address is hidden, you aren’t recognized or tracked as you would if you access the internet without the VPN.
The watchdogs for piracy that watch pirated data depart from a server, go on the internet, and eventually land on the IP address of your computer are going to have a difficult time tracking the IP location when using a VPN.
So using a VPN and a jailbroken Firestick is highly recommended, especially if you’re planning on streaming illegal content!
Jailbreaking a Firestick is completely legal.
The situation quickly becomes illegal when you use the jailbroken Firestick to stream pirated content. The law allows violators to get as long as five years in jail and be fined up to $250,000.
The only way people appear to be in trouble is when they are using jailbroken Firesticks or streamed content to earn money.
If you’re seeking to stream video content on your jailbroken Firestick from the comfort of your home, it’s probably secure to do it.
All things taken into consideration, I don’t personally suggest the jailbreak of your Firestick. It’s simply too risky.
However, if you want to use a VPN, I strongly recommend using a VPN every time you stream to shield your identity from the eyes of anyone who is watching.