Has the UK Government Just Made Sharing your Netflix Password Illegal?
It is not uncommon for streaming platform subscribers to share their passwords so that friends and family can access the content their monthly payments offer. In fact, back in 2017, Netflix was even encouraging users to do so, as it helped spread the streaming service around the world at an incredible pace. Netflix has since changed its modus operandi on this, however, and alarming news coming out of the UK means that these streaming platforms may soon have the law to back them up in any potential disputes with password-sharing users.
The UK Government's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) recently published new piracy guidance that contains a small yet significant detail. People who share their Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Disney+ passwords could be breaching copyright law and may even be guilty of committing criminal fraud. There is a chance that this could be seen as precedent-setting with other national authorities taking similar positions.
Interestingly, over the last twelve months or so, Netflix has been leading the charge in the anti-password-sharing crusade, brainstorming a variety of ways to stop multiple households from logging into the same Netflix account. The streaming platform, which has seen its stock price take a nosedive recently with people giving up their Netflix subscriptions by the hundreds of thousands has recently introduced a new cut-price subscription level that is backed by ads and is also testing a new additional user subscription model, which could give users the chance to pay a small charge per extra user they want to add to their account.
If all this sounds worrying, intimidating, and a little over the top there is good news to report here. The UK IPO has since updated its website and has removed the detail relating to password sharing, which means the heat is off for now. All this means though, is that there are no explicit criminal liabilities attached to sharing your streaming platform accounts right now. It is clear that the IPO is actively considering the move and has even gone so far as to publish the guidelines on its website.
There are several possibilities ahead of us now. The first is that the government office has simply acted too swiftly publishing the new guidelines and has since pulled until all the relevant details and legislative amendments have been prepared. The other, however, points to a situation where an overzealous webmaster has published something that has only briefly been discussed and is far away from being official policy and may not ever even become policy at all. There is also the possibility, however, that similar initiatives may already be under discussion across other jurisdictions.
One thing is for certain, however, is that the streaming platforms are actively searching for ways to prevent password sharing so against the law or not, you can likely expect your days of watching Stranger Things on your uncle’s Netflix account are numbered.Advertisement