You Could Be Prosecuted For Sharing Your Netflix Password

Pappi Hex

You could be prosecuted for sharing your Netflix password. Yes! you read that right. It is a criminal offense to share your Netflix password with someone not living in the same house as you. So what country does this law apply to?

There are different laws around the world that addresses issues of people accessing copyright-protected works or materials without payment. While you might not know exactly what the law in your country says, the U.K., however, makes its clear stand regarding the matter. 

According to a publication made last month by U.K's Intellectual Property Office (IPO), guiding citizens on avoiding piracy and counterfeit goods online. The IPO called piracy a "major issue for the entertainment and creative industries" while naming actions such as password sharing, which it said broke copyright law.

Password sharing is very popular in the U.K. In fact, research firm Digital i told the Guardian in April 2022 that at least 27% of Netflix's estimated 14.9 million subscribers in the U.K., around 4 million, were sharing their passwords.

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While noting that people could face prosecution from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for password sharing. The IPO also said it was both a criminal and civil matter.

"There are a range of provisions in criminal and civil law which may be applicable in the case of password sharing where the intent is to allow a user to access copyright-protected works without payments," the IPO told the BBC.

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

"Where these provisions are provided in civil law, it would be up to the service provider to take action through the courts if required."

There is no indication or any evidence to suggest that Netflix or any of the major streaming video services in the U.K. would take any legal action against password sharing. 

However, Netflix says that it would roll out a feature in 2023 that would make it easy for people borrowing others' accounts to set up their own. That is, they can transfer their profile into a new account, and also create "sub-accounts" for people to pay extra for family or friends. 

But what if your video streaming provider decides to take criminal action? 

According to a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), "Any decision to charge someone for sharing passwords for streaming services would be looked at on a case-by-case basis, with due consideration of the individual context and facts of each case.

"As with all cases, if they are referred to the CPS by an investigator for a charging decision, our duty is to bring prosecutions where there is sufficient evidence to do so and when a prosecution is required in the public interest."

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