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 4:09:32 PM , Rating: 4
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 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:
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.

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.
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
If you buy a DVD, you have the rights to dispose of that DVD however you 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?

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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