The Amazon FireStick has been a significant game-changer in many ways. It allows users to stream, watch television, and consume other media.
However, the FireStick has a lot of limitations out of the box. Many people have been able to work around those limits by jailbreaking their devices.
This article will help you decide if you should jailbreak yours, if the practice is legal, and what will happen to it if you do.
What Is a Jailbroken FireStick?
With the Amazon FireStick, you can download apps that act as channels on your television, like Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix. You can even install apps for weather, news, or games.
But you can only download apps approved by Amazon.
There are thousands of apps for the FireStick that you will never find on the Amazon app store.
Some third-party applications are designed to allow access to previously unavailable content, like movies still in theaters or television shows that aren’t available on streaming platforms.
Although some apps allow you to watch copyrighted content, most are from developers that simply don’t want to pay Amazon to host their app.
Because of this, Amazon has strict controls in place to prevent you from downloading anything not from their app store, also known as sideloading, to your FireStick.
Jailbreaking a FireStick makes it possible to circumvent those protections and install whatever you want on your device.
What Is the Difference Between Jailbroken and Fully Loaded?
You’ve probably stumbled on references to “fully-loaded” FireSticks when researching how to jailbreak your FireStick devices.
While similar, these are not the same.
A fully-loaded FireStick is already jailbroken and comes complete with multiple apps or Kodi add-ons preinstalled to watch copyrighted content for free.
Some people pay a little extra to buy a fully loaded FireStick instead of jailbreaking it themselves to ensure a working device.
Jailbreaking a FireStick involves modifying the device. It’s not difficult, but if not done correctly, it could cause the FireStick to stop working. It’s called “bricking” the device.
Bricking a device refers to messing up the firmware update, causing the device to not boot. Essentially making it as useful as a brick. Understandably, many people choose to have someone else jailbreak their FireStick. Otherwise, you might spend money on a new device to potentially ruin it by doing something wrong.
Jailbreaking an Amazon FireStick also voids any warranty or return policy you may have had with the vendor where you bought it. They will not replace a jailbroken device that stops working later on.
Is Jailbreaking a FireStick Illegal?
Nothing is illegal about jailbreaking any streaming device, including the Amazon FireStick. When you buy a FireStick, it is your property, and you can do whatever you want. You can jailbreak it, load it with third-party apps, or sell it to someone else.
However, downloading or streaming copyrighted content without the right to do so is against the law. Owning software on your FireStick that allows you to do it is not.
Kodi is an open-source media center that allows you to load films, TV shows, and any other media to catalog them. The software itself is free. And even though it makes it possible to do illegal things, it is not illegal to have it.
Has Anyone Ever Gotten In Trouble For Jailbreaking a FireStick?
No one has ever gotten in trouble, gone to jail, or been fined any money because they jailbroke a device like an Amazon FireStick. Nor has anyone ever been punished for purchasing a FireStick that has been made fully loaded.
There’s nothing inherently illegal about having a device with software that can stream copyrighted content. What is illegal is the actual act of streaming that content.
You could technically break the law if you buy a FireStick with any copyright-protected material installed. If you decide to buy one, be sure that it just has software and no actual media files. This is one example of why it might be better to do it yourself.
Using a jailbroken FireStick to stream copyrighted content is considered copyright infringement. It may be punishable with time in prison and a hefty fine.
However, the FBI is more interested in going after the websites providing the content. They rarely focus on the people consuming it.
If you watch copyrighted content on your FireStick, use a reliable VPN that sends your Internet through a different country. This helps cloak your streaming habits and provides a little more anonymity.
Where Do You Buy Jailbroken FireSticks?
There are websites where people sell jailbroken Firesticks, like CraigsList, eBay, and OfferUp. You can usually find plenty of ads for them on Facebook Marketplace sites.
But should you?
Well, there is a good chance those devices have content on them already. You are technically breaking the law if you purchase one with an illegal media file on it.
There is also the possibility that the person you are dealing with online is selling you a bricked device. By the time you realized it, they would be gone with your money.
Given that, it is usually a better idea to do it yourself if a jailbroken Firestick is what you want.
It’s pretty easy to find instructions on how to jailbreak a FireStick. You risk bricking your device and will definitely void any warranty you have. However, you will have much more control over what is on it if you do it yourself.
What Can You Do With a Jailbroken FireStick?
Some of the top apps that are available to download on a FireStick after jailbreaking are:
Easily the most popular Fire Stick application is Kodi. This open-source media center allows you to organize and play all of your content.
However, it’s best known for a wealth of third-party addons that enable users to stream almost anything they want. Although Kodi tries to distance itself from users who “sail the high seas,” there’s no doubt that piracy made Kodi as popular as it is today.
Amazon’s feud with Google is well-documented. One of the main casualties in that war has been YouTube, which Amazon periodically pulls from their app store.
Thankfully, there’s a better option available through sideloading: SmartTube.
SmartTube is my go-to YouTube alternative. Not only does it offer an ad-free experience, but it has a better interface and more features. Check out how to install SmartTube in my tutorial here.