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  (Source: digitaltrends.com)
Tennessee lawmakers have passed a measure backed by the RIAA that could ban the sharing of Netflix passwords

For years, the recording industry has attempted to save itself by combating illegal downloading of music and movies in an effort to increase CD and DVD sales. It's no secret that subscription services like Netflix are a thorn in their sides, offering movie rentals for one low monthly price. But now, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the U.S. state of Tennessee are taking these efforts to revive DVD sales to a whole new level by proposing a new law that could ban the sharing of Netflix passwords.

Netflix is an on-demand video streaming and video rental-by-mail company that launched its subscription service in 1999. The user base grew quickly, reporting 23.6 million subscribers worldwide this year. In addition, Netflix has Hollywood executives shaking in their boots, and even pushed Blockbuster into bankruptcy.

While Netflix continues to grow as far as audience and content goes, the movie rental and streaming giant may encounter some problems in the state of Tennessee. Tennessee lawmakers have passed a new bill that would make it illegal to share passwords for Netflix, Rhapsody or other similar services amongst friends. 

The bill is awaiting the governor's approval, and if passed, could put sharers of Netflix accounts in jail. According to one report, stealing $500 or less of entertainment would be a misdemeanor, and would land a person in jail for up to one year with a $2,500 fine.

The RIAA is backing Tennessee's bill in an effort to stop hackers who sell passwords, and say that Netflix password pooling falls into that category. Bill Ramsey, a Nashville lawyer, noted that those who share subscriptions within the same household would not likely be apart of the ban, as small-scale violations like that would be difficult to identify. But when one password exceeds about 10 people, that's when "a prosecutor might look and say, 'Hey, you knew it was stealing.'"

This definitely isn't the RIAA's first attempt to get its share. After battling filesharing service LimeWire in federal court over copyright infringement claims, the RIAA won $105 million, and many doubted its intent to share with recording artists, who were supposedly the ones to benefit from the case. According to a report released a couple weeks ago, the RIAA may distribute some of the settlement money to artists, and while it may pocket a large sum of the loot, it never said it would give artists nothing at all.

But many agree that this new measure is wandering into the zone of ridiculousness, and are wondering where the RIAA will draw the line. What about lending a friend a CD? Or a DVD box set? When will it be enough?



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RE: Er...
By ClownPuncher on 6/2/2011 12:49:25 PM , Rating: 4
And why are we calling it stealing still?


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/11, Rating: -1
RE: Er...
By icemansims on 6/2/2011 1:24:01 PM , Rating: 5
No. I don't agree. Nor do I consider taking my newspaper that I had delivered this morning to work and leaving it in the break room for others to read after I finish it stealing.


RE: Er...
By phantom505 on 6/2/11, Rating: 0
RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 1:44:40 PM , Rating: 4
The newspaper isn't the same thing as Netflix. It's a single, tangible item that is effectively discarded once used by the original purchaser.

Netflix is entirely different...it's an on-demand service that you have to represent yourself via ID and password to use, and that realtime usage is catered to exactly what you want...it's not a disposable, single-time use item.

You can try to rationalize it all you want - but if you let someone else use a service that is registered under only your name, and paid for only for your use, you're defrauding that company.


RE: Er...
By phantom505 on 6/2/2011 1:53:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yes and there is fair use rules. Hard copies can be resold, shared, and so on. That is expressly exempted. I'm not writing a law thesis on copyrights on DailyTech. To think you get to pass around your access to online services at will is nonsense. The intent and license is for single users within a household (as a recall)

I'm not rationalizing anything.


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 2:01:51 PM , Rating: 2
...I was agreeing with you. The "You" I was referring to in the "rationalizing" bit was a generic you pointed at those disagreeing with us.


RE: Er...
By swampthing1117 on 6/2/2011 2:03:10 PM , Rating: 2
Oh ok, so if i buy a dvd and loan it to a friend and they watch it once and return it, i've also broken the law according to the RIAA because they saw it without paying for it. Or heck, even if i just give it to them. The RIAA wouldn't like that either, my copy should be destroyed and they should have to buy a new one.

All this RIAA nonsense is getting out of control, they are now trying to legislate people to force them into buying their content the way they choose and people flat out don't want to.

Now that said, i don't think it's right you share your netflix password as you are defrauding netflix and sooner or later they'll have to raise prices to compensate and we don't want that. I mean christ people it's 10 bucks a month don't pirate that for gods sake.

Finally, this law is stupid. Completely unenforceable and a complete waste of taxpayer dollars to even put through into law.


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 2:14:22 PM , Rating: 2
No, that's fine - and you're using it as an inappropriate example. It's not an equivalent transaction.

You buying a DVD and letting someone else view it is categorically not the same thing as letting someone else use your ID and password to misrepresent themselves to an on-demand service and watch whatever the hell they want, whenever they want, probably at the same time you are (although it wouldn't matter either way).


RE: Er...
By stm1185 on 6/2/2011 3:29:31 PM , Rating: 3
It's an interesting thought. I believe it is not stealing, as you are paying for the account and you are letting someone else use your account. Just like if you bought a dvd and loaned it to a friend.

But say they make it illegal, what about other streaming sites. For instance several people in my house are using HBO GO, and we all use the same username and password, because we have 1 hbo subscription for the 1 satellite subscription we have for the house.

Or what about the satellite service itself, will we all have to have a different satellite for each tv or device so its not stealing?


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 4:09:32 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
I believe it is not stealing, as you are paying for the account and you are letting someone else use your account. Just like if you bought a dvd and loaned it to a friend.


Your belief is incorrect...willfully so, I suspect.

If you buy a DVD, you have the rights to dispose of that DVD however you want...like giving or loaning it to a friend.

Giving your friend your ID and password so they can misrepresent themselves as you to Netflix, or anyone else, and actively consume that service as much as they want whenever they want in any manner they want to is an utterly different issue. Not comparable in the least. Not even close.

A better example would be letting your neighbor splice off your cable TV line. That's illegal too...and you can and will get in legal trouble for doing it.


RE: Er...
By The Raven on 6/2/2011 4:42:45 PM , Rating: 2
This is not entirely a good example. Netflix limits you to I think 6 devices:
quote:
You may watch instantly on up to 6 unique devices: Including personal computers and Netflix ready devices. You may also use this page to manually de-register devices you no longer wish to use for watching instantly. A deactivated device can be reactivated later if you wish to resume using it. -netflix.com-

Though this (I would guess) can be easily circumnavigated for use by more than 6 people/devices, I figure (legally speaking) you are paying for upto 6 people to use your account. Now there may be other legal conditions in the "EULA" but i didn't read that when I signed up (they should make it a movie and I will watch it ;-P).

And legally speaking, I understand and agree with your understanding that sharing cable TV is stealing (not that I would turn anyone in). But would you consider it stealing from the cable company if I let someone use bandwidth off of my router? No since it is just the bandwith and not the content that is being "stolen". But since I have a Netflix "bandwidth" of 6 devices/users, then the legal waters get murky.

Easy fix to this for Netflix is to raise or lower the prices in a way that puts them on top. Screw making a new law. Put it in the EULA and prosecute violators based on existing contractual law.


RE: Er...
By The Raven on 6/2/2011 4:55:57 PM , Rating: 2
I checked the EULA. The bolded is all I could find... but it kind of looks out of place being buried in a paragraph about protecting your identity.
quote:
Account Access; Identity Protection

In order to provide you with ease of access to your account and to help administer the Netflix service, Netflix implements technology that enables us to recognize you as the account holder and provide you with direct access to your account without requiring you to retype any password or other user identification when you revisit the Netflix service. You are responsible for updating and maintaining the truth and accuracy of the information you provide to us relating to your account.

You are also responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your account and password and for restricting access to your computer or Netflix ready device. If you disclose your password to anyone or share your account and/or devices with other people, you take full responsibility for their actions. Where possible, users of public or shared devices should log out at the completion of each visit. If you sell or return a computer or Netflix ready device, you should logout and/or deactivate the device before doing so. If you fail to log out or deactivate your device, subsequent users may be able to access certain of your account information. To deactivate a device, go to Manage Netflix ready devices and computers.

If you find that you're a victim of identity theft and it involves a Netflix account, you should notify customer service. Then, you should report this instance to all your card issuers, as well as your local law enforcement agency. Also, you should be mindful of any emails requesting that you submit credit card or other account information. These types of emails, also known as phishing emails, can result in identity theft. Always access your sensitive account information by going directly to the Netflix website and not through a hyperlink in an email, even if it looks official. Netflix reserves the right to place any account on hold anytime with or without notification to the member in order to protect itself and its partners from what it believes to be fraudulent activity. Netflix is not obligated to credit or discount a membership for holds placed on the account by either a representative of Netflix or by the automated processes of Netflix.


RE: Er...
By The Raven on 6/2/2011 4:43:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you buy a DVD, you have the rights to dispose of that DVD however you want...like giving or loaning it to a friend.
...or backing it up on your computer ;-P


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 6:23:32 PM , Rating: 2
Fair use law allows you to do that. Unless you have to circumvent DRM in order to do it, in which case you'll be found guilty of a crime worse than distributing child porn.


RE: Er...
By Hiawa23 on 6/2/2011 7:16:38 PM , Rating: 2
I pay for my netflix, & I would not give my info to someone to use for free, so if people are doing this, it doesn't seem right to me, & they should crack down on this. You can pay just like I & millions of others do every month.


RE: Er...
By stm1185 on 6/2/2011 7:39:49 PM , Rating: 2
Or maybe Netflix supports this activity by having the service let you log in with multiple computers and devices at the same time and watch videos at the same time.

They could change the system to stop streaming on one device if that account logs in on another device, which would allow only 1 use at a time for 1 account, which makes lending out your info no different then any other media. They could have built the system with that limitation, yet they didn't.

So if this is such a big problem for Netflix, then Netflix can fix it themselves.


RE: Er...
By Omega215D on 6/3/2011 2:55:13 AM , Rating: 1
And those households that want to watch different things in different areas of the house?


RE: Er...
By AmbroseAthan on 6/2/2011 1:42:54 PM , Rating: 2
People need to learn digital content like this is not a free for all. In this case, Netflix will be dealing with the bandwidth of two people using the service rather than the one person who is paying for it.

It becomes more of a problem when one account is shared with multiple people. I am surprised Netflix doesn't have it set up where your account gets a short suspension if multiple IP addresses stream at the same time (or maybe they do an I am unaware).

To quote a classic:
"We got one person on-line, and the workload is enough for like, ten users. I think we got a hacker."


RE: Er...
By Farva on 6/2/2011 1:58:53 PM , Rating: 4
Netflix already has it setup to only allow a certain (two) number of concurrent steams per account. When you try to stream a third concurrent time you get a "Not gonna happen. Logoff somewhere" message.

If Netflix allowed poeple to have unlimited concurrent streams per account they'd be hurting themselves. This bill is stupid and pointless...


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 2:15:06 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on the package you get from Netflix. And other services may have no such ability to do so at all - like if you have a paid Hulu account or something.


RE: Er...
By Farva on 6/2/2011 2:52:30 PM , Rating: 2
They might have changed since I signed up (around 9 months ago) but the only tiers offered were for the mailer service. It seemed there was one and only one tier of streaming service.


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 3:21:10 PM , Rating: 2
I don't use either, but I believe that the number of simultaneous devices is correlated to the number of "disks out" you can have - if you're on the "4 disks out at a time plan" then you can have 4 devices connected at the same time.


RE: Er...
By bodar on 6/2/2011 3:33:51 PM , Rating: 2
Right. Netflix already controls how many streaming devices you can have active on your account and how many concurrent streams you can use. They're quite generous, actually -- 6 devices and 1 stream per disc. I'm not sure on streaming-only plans. Maybe that's why Big Content is butt-hurt and wants to tighten their grip? Netflix obviously seems cool with the arrangement.


RE: Er...
By mcnabney on 6/2/2011 4:09:43 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't the TN law indicate $500 as the loss level?

SO... you would have to share your password with one person for about 6 years?


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 4:11:03 PM , Rating: 2
Well, Netflix isn't "cool" with you giving your ID and password to someone else, even if that keeps you within your "limit."

Because it's not you, and you're the only one who's got the license to use their service.

They also wouldn't be cool with you trying to add a 7th device either.


RE: Er...
By bodar on 6/2/2011 6:20:11 PM , Rating: 2
On closer reading, I see that the law isn't that bad since it is aimed at stopping large-scale abusers. However, I agree with the article in that they should tread carefully with this kind of thing. Do we need to be arresting people for giving their Netflix credentials to their sibling or friend? Probably not.

FYI, you can add more than 6 devices; they just can't all be active, so you have to deactivate one in the pool. The device manager page even says so.


RE: Er...
By The Raven on 6/2/2011 5:00:09 PM , Rating: 3
It's not one stream per disc because we do 2 streams all the time with our 1-disc plan. Check the EULA. From what I read, I think they reserve the right to shut anyone down that they feel is committing fraud. No new law is needed.


RE: Er...
By MrBlastman on 6/2/2011 2:01:38 PM , Rating: 2
I've never tried it but--won't Netflix only allow one PC or device to be logged into an account at a time?

If it doesn't, well, then apparently it isn't against their policy. As such, Tennessee should mind their own business (and not tend to the needs of the RIAA which defrauds many legitimate artists out of money they deserve).

RIAA should change their name to RAT--Recording Association of Thugs.


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 1:45:12 PM , Rating: 2
You can not agree all you want, and provide inapplicable examples all you want. But you're wrong.


RE: Er...
By ClownPuncher on 6/2/2011 3:12:18 PM , Rating: 1
Other than bandwidth, what was stolen?


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 3:22:46 PM , Rating: 2
Their service.

Think about it this way: YOU come up with some uber-cool online service, and you sell one license to one user for, say, $20 a month.

That user posts his ID and password on 4chan and the next day you have 2 million people "not stealing" your service.

You OK with that?


RE: Er...
By ClownPuncher on 6/2/2011 3:46:54 PM , Rating: 2
That would be fraud.


RE: Er...
By Golgatha on 6/2/2011 3:57:55 PM , Rating: 2
Also, it would be against the TOS with Netflix. Now, if I pay for 4 discs and streams, I obviously can't watch all 4 myself. I'm still paying for the service though, so who's to tell me what I can and can't do with my excess paid for services? Apparently the government and the RIAA, that's who! Certainly not Netflix, as I am consuming what I bought and paid for.


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/11, Rating: 0
RE: Er...
By ClownPuncher on 6/2/2011 5:40:10 PM , Rating: 3
Okay. If we are to have a discussion about law, shouldn't we get the terminology and legality of it squared away?

The article mentions theft, you mention theft, but no theft is taking place. That is not the way to have a debate.

It IS illegal, and it already was. Why is TN adding another law to the books for this?

Now, on to picking nits: you used "your" and "sanctimony" incorrectly in your post.


RE: Er...
By Motoman on 6/2/2011 6:21:33 PM , Rating: 2
No, I don't think it's all that important to argue about what's "fraud" and what's "theft" as it relates to this issue. Either are illegal, and let the lawyers piss and moan about which term to use. Don't care. For the purposes of a non-lawyer discussion, either is fine.

quote:
It IS illegal, and it already was. Why is TN adding another law to the books for this?


That was what I started off asking.

quote:
Now, on to picking nits: you used "your" and "sanctimony" incorrectly in your post.


Yes, I typoed "your." No, "sanctimony" was used correctly, as you are clearly acting sanctimonious about your irrelevant issue of "fraud" vs. "theft." You kept asking it like it was some earth-shaking revelation that would part the heavens and bring down the word of Gawd - when in fact it matters not in the slightest for the purposes of discussing this TN issue on the internet between non-lawyers.


RE: Er...
By ClownPuncher on 6/2/2011 6:41:40 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Yes, I typoed "your." No, "sanctimony" was used correctly, as you are clearly acting sanctimonious about your irrelevant issue of "fraud" vs. "theft." You kept asking it like it was some earth-shaking revelation that would part the heavens and bring down the word of Gawd - when in fact it matters not in the slightest for the purposes of discussing this TN issue on the internet between non-lawyers.


I mean, that is your interpretation of my posts. In my opinion, it is important to communicate clearly the entire issue, even if that means being pedantic about terminology. Sanctimony is something inferred by you. There is nothing emotional about my posts.

When discussing exactly what law would be broken by giving out passwords and access not authorized by Netflix, we get a background on how the cases are handled in court, how they are viewed by the public, how serious an offense it is, and exactly how it is dealt with on a punitive basis. I think that is pretty important to the discussion. Much akin to the whole copyright infringement vs. petty theft debates.

You're right in asking why we need more laws, and in asking why a corporation can't handle this themselves. It seems to serve neither the people or the corporations, just clouds an already too clouded legal system.

As far as correcting other peoples posts goes, I wouldn't take it personally.


RE: Er...
By kerpwnt on 6/2/2011 3:52:47 PM , Rating: 2
If anything is wrong with this scenario, it is a breech of the Netflix's Terms of Service. Netflix allows a number of concurrent streams equal to the number of discs you can "rent" at one time. Netflix is already keen to the fact that this is happening. They may not approve of it, but they do have complete control over it.

Why is the RIAA even involved? This is Netflix's battle (if they even care). If they need a private lawyer army, shouldn't they be tapping the MPAA?


RE: Er...
By RamarC on 6/2/2011 3:02:44 PM , Rating: 2
let me take a copuple of photos of your atm card and watch you punch in your pin #. i promise not to steal anything. ;)


RE: Er...
By MrBlastman on 6/2/2011 3:18:31 PM , Rating: 1
The way we're headed if this litigation passes scares me. Today, I can silently share my flatulence to everyone on an elevator and walk off with a smile, knowing I just helped to "warm" things up.

Tomorrow, I might be thrown in jail because I really didn't own the "rights" to my fart molecules. The farmers actually own them as they are a derivative of the crops that I ate or the milk that I drank. By improperly re-sharing them with the public, I failed to deliver the licensing fees to said farmers thus I have stolen food from them by spreading post-digested molecules about that they owned.

I've thus committed a crime by farting. At least, could be doing so if the logic of the RIAA spreads through society.

I also might be imprisoned by our Government for not paying the "gas" tax.


RE: Er...
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RE: Er...
By ClownPuncher on 6/2/2011 3:10:46 PM , Rating: 2
Defrauded or stolen from? You'll have to pick one. The only thing "stolen" would be server bandwidth. Defrauded is a word I can agree on, though.


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