Netflix customers could go to jail for sharing their password
Sharing a password for a streaming service like Netflix could land you in hot water in the UK.
The country’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) issued guidance on December 19, saying that “accessing … apps without paying a subscription is a violation of copyright and you may be committing a crime.”
The IPO made the statement in an announcement about its joint campaign with Meta – formerly known as Facebook – to provide guidance to people to avoid pirated and counterfeit goods online. its website.
“Pasting internet images on social media without permission, or accessing movies, TV shows or live sporting events through Kodi boxes, hacked Fire Sticks or apps without paying a subscription is a copyright violation and you could be committing a crime .”
The law applies to Netflix password sharing, but also other streaming services, including Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Apple TV+.
But despite the recently published guidance, a spokeswoman told the IPO Newsweek “copyright law remains unchanged,” and there are “a number of provisions of criminal and civil law that may apply in the event of password sharing where the intent is to allow a user to access copyrighted works without payment.”
“These provisions may include breach of contract, fraud or secondary copyright infringement, depending on the circumstances. Where these provisions are provided in civil law, it will be up to the service provider to take action through the courts if necessary,” the IPO spokeswoman said.
In the case of Netflix, “the member who created the Netflix account and whose payment method is charged” is responsible for any activity that occurs through the account.
“We may terminate your account or place your account on hold to protect you, Netflix or our partners from identity theft or other fraudulent activity.”
In October, Netflix revealed it would take a tougher stance on password sharers as it battles a decline in subscribers. Netflix claimed that of the 222 million households around the world with subscriptions, there were “an additional 100 million households” who accessed the service through password sharing.
It claimed that the practice also made it more difficult for the company to expand its services and productions into new markets. Netflix offers shared accounts with separate profiles and multiple streams in its plans, but they only apply to people living under the same roof.
“While these have been hugely popular, they have also created some confusion about when and how Netflix can be shared. As a result, accounts are split between households – affecting our ability to invest in great new TV and movies for our members .” Netflix said in a March statement.
So the company introduced options for members on standard and premium plans to add subaccounts for up to two people they don’t live with. It also offered the option to transfer a profile to a new account or an additional member account so that they would not lose their personal data, such as viewing history and recommended shows.
According to the IPO, people who “share passwords” also open themselves up to criminal charges for violating “secondary copyright infringement.”
In UK law, primary copyright infringement refers to the illegal reproduction of intellectual property, but the secondary type requires knowledge of infringement, such as knowingly sharing or using someone’s Netflix password.
The Crown Prosecution Service in the UK states that “deliberate infringement of copyright may be a criminal offence”, but admitted that the chances of prosecution were low.
It explained how many of the copyright-based industries have created their own coalitions, which “are actively involved in enforcement efforts, often in conjunction with the police or trading standards departments.”
“In some cases these organizations carry out prosecutions themselves,” the CPS added on its website.
One such group is the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), which created a task force in 2019 to combat the rise of unauthorized password sharing.
“The digital era has ushered in an explosion of new streaming platforms and a golden age of television,” said Charles Rivkin, chairman of the Motion Picture Association and also ACE in 2019.
“However, the openness has also led to challenges such as piracy and unauthorized access that compromise the intellectual property that supports content creators and the economic viability of their work.”
Newsweek has contacted Netflix, the Intellectual Property Office and the Crown Prosecution Service for comment.