Government says sharing Netflix passwords may be illegal

Netflix, which broadcasts shows like Ozark starring Jason Bateman, has never said that it will take legal action in such cases (Netflix)

Netflix, which broadcasts shows like Ozark starring Jason Bateman, has never said that it will take legal action in such cases (Netflix)

According to a new report, Netflix plans to officially end password sharing in early 2023, after years of tolerating the practice.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the streaming service will start restricting and gradually expand it in the US.

Netflix says 100 million people watch its service for free using a friend or family member’s password. The streamer is reportedly able to generate an estimated $721m (£596m) in additional revenue next year by tightening up the method in the US and Canada.

While Netflix outright prohibits password sharing, it has long left it unchecked for fears it could alienate customers who now have more streaming options than ever before, including free platforms like Amazon Freevee and on-demand services from UK public broadcasters. With increasing competition, Netflix launched a cheaper basic subscription with ads costing £5 per month in November.

Rumors of an official action have come after reports that sharing broadcast passwords may be illegal in the UK.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO), a government agency that oversees patents and trademarks, said Tuesday the app violated copyright law.

The IPO has since removed references to password sharing under its guidance on the Government website.

Original IPO page saved by Internet Archive HereHe also included “password sharing on streaming services” in the list of things “violating copyright law” compiled with Meta’s help.

This newly updated page It simply removes the bet altogether, leaving behind things like “Passing Internet footage to your social media without permission” and “Accessing movies, TV shows or live sporting events via Kodi boxes”.

But despite this, the Government’s initial recommendation still seems valid. An IPO spokesperson confirmed Telegram this password sharing was a violation of copyright law and could even constitute fraud.

“There are a number of provisions in criminal and civil law that may apply in the case of password sharing where the purpose is to allow a user to access copyrighted works without paying,” the spokesperson said.

“These provisions may include breach of contractual terms, fraud, or secondary copyright infringement, depending on the circumstances.”

Will Netflix take legal action against password sharers?

Despite these harsh words, the courts will ultimately decide whether password sharing is truly illegal. And that assumes any streaming company would risk taking legal action against anyone who does.

Netflix has never said that it will take any legal action in such cases. As early as 2017, the streaming giant’s own social media account tacitly endorsed the following:

It’s fair to say that Netflix’s attitude towards password sharing has changed significantly over the past five years. plans to levy a tax on those who share login information outside their home. Netflix says it uses information like IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity to detect how many homes are connected to its service.

However, even if deliberate password sharing can be proven beyond doubt (as opposed to being held liable for a password breach), it seems highly unlikely that the company will risk PR’s backlash for legal action.

Historically, penalizing users for piracy has been both expensive and bad publicity for the companies involved, even by Topware Interactive. Will be able to get £16,000 from a woman for piracy of Dream Pinball 3D game.

The contentious practice of mass mailing cash payments to people suspected of piracy and fishing to avoid court action is less common than it was in the early 2000s, but is still occasionally used. Last year, Virgin Media customers Offers a chance to resolve potential legal action to download Netflix movie Ava for just over £800.

In public court, this kind of harsh legal action is often counterintuitive, even for active piracy – something that most of the public doesn’t quite sympathize with. Going after streaming subscribers who share the same expense as their friends and family during a cost of living crisis would be a very bad prospect, no matter how close companies are to potential loss of revenue.

As a result, publishers can opt for a quiet life by banning accounts for violating their terms of service, rather than claiming a crime has been committed and risking serious negative publicity.

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