Print 85 comment(s) - last by foolsgambit11.. on Jun 5 at 3:37 AM

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 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.

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