Sharing your Netflix password was illegal for a day in the UK

Password sharing has become one of Netflix’s workhorses and is not generally viewed favorably by the streaming industry. This practice does not seem to the liking of the British government either, which quite simply made it illegal via a discreet announcement from its Intellectual Property Office.

A mention quickly removed

The Government of the UK published on December 19, 2022 new guidelines as part of a campaign to fight online piracy and counterfeiting, in partnership with Meta. An element has subtly slipped into the section dedicated to piracy: “Piracy is a major problem for the entertainment and creative industries. Post images from the Internet to your social networks, share a password on streaming services and access the latest movies, TV shows or live sporting events through boxes, HDMI sticks or apps without paying any fees. subscription, are all infringements of copyright law. Not only are you breaking the law, but you are preventing someone from earning a living through their work.”

Is password sharing illegal?

Asked by TorrentFreak on the legality of this provision, the government office sheds a little reassuring light: “There are a range of criminal and civil law provisions that may be applicable in the case of password sharing, where the intent is to allow a user to access copyrighted works without payment.” “These provisions may include breach of contract terms, fraud or secondary copyright infringement depending on the circumstances”adds the organization.

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Furthermore, “using a membership service without paying and without being a member” would already constitute an example of fraud under Anglo-Saxon law, according to the Fraud Act from 2006. The British legislative body therefore seems to be in a real attempt at deterrence.

According to this reading of the law, password sharing became prosecutable in the UK, which could have set a precedent for European lawmakers. The streaming services could thus have attacked a user on this basis, but would they have done so?

No doubt their image would come out tarnished, and it’s a safe bet that the companies concerned will opt for more subtle and effective means to fight against large-scale account sharing. Sharing passwords could previously constitute a violation of the general conditions of use of streaming services, but had never before been considered an illegal act in itself.

Looking for new sources of growth after a worrying period from a financial point of view, Netflix will vigorously fight against the sharing of passwords in 2023, against its old policy. Because yes, in 2017, the company even encouraged its subscribers to exchange their sesames “by love”.

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