Password sharing is illegal for streaming services like Netflix, according to a government agency.
On Tuesday, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) announced that this behavior violates copyright laws.
Although sharing passwords for streaming services is normally against the terms of their service agreement, it's popular for people who don't live together in the UK to do so.
Netflix has never said it will take legal action in such cases.
Since then, the IPO has removed any mention of password sharing from its instructions on its official website. But a spokesperson insisted that neither the IPO's recommendation nor the legal position on password sharing had changed.
He said that sharing passwords is illegal and against the law.
According to the statement, a range of legal penalties, both criminal and civil, can be imposed when a password is shared in order to gain free access to copyright-protected works.
Depending on the situation, these provisions may cover fraud, secondary copyright infringement, or breach of contract terms.
Where these obligations are specified in civil law, it is the service provider's duty to seek compensation in court if necessary.
There is no evidence that any of the main UK video streaming providers would act in this way.
According to Netflix, it wants to "make it easy" for users who use other people's accounts to create their own accounts, migrate their profile to a new account, and create "sub-accounts" where users can charge more for family or friends.
It promised to begin implementing these capabilities "on a greater scale" by early 2023.
The BBC has also contacted Amazon and Disney, which operate streaming services, for comment. According to research firm Digital I, four million Netflix members in the UK, or about a quarter of all subscribers, share their passwords.
Account sharing “is a huge hurdle” for Netflix and other streaming services, according to product manager Matt Ross, speaking to the BBC.
Following the launch of the ad-supported tier, it's undisputed that Netflix has a chance to significantly increase its revenue by blocking account sharing and converting those who do so into paying customers.
But what drives many households to share the premium subscription is still an open matter.
Nadine Dorries, who was the culture minister at the time, admitted in May that she was one of those who shared the account.
“My mother and my children have access to my account. I have Netflix, but my account can be used by four other people in four different cities around the country,” he told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee.
As Netflix began expanding in the UK, the streaming service eased the practice of sharing passwords with friends and relatives in a tweet.
Since then, Netflix has tried to stop this practice, which is against their terms of service, but has never taken legal action. Since then, customer growth has slowed.
Instead, it has added new price tiers to the service to make it look more appealing, including the £4,99 ad-supported price point that launched in the UK in November.
An interesting part of the answer is the criminal law implication in the IPO's statement, implying that individuals could theoretically be prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for sharing passwords.
This situation has not been ignored by CPS.
According to a spokesperson, any decision to prosecute an individual for revealing streaming service passwords will be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific circumstances and realities of each case.
“As in other cases, if they are referred by an investigator to the CPS for a judgment of impeachment, it is our duty to initiate charges when there is sufficient evidence to do so and a prosecution is necessary in the public interest,” the CPS said.
In other words, a police investigation will be required before the CPS can take any action.
Günceleme: 22/12/2022 16:02