Sharing Your Netflix Password Is Now A Federal Crime

Remember those FBI warnings on VHS tapes?  The ones that said you’d get a $250,000 fine if you made copies?

People did copied tapes anyway back in the day, and nothing ever happened.  This is like the 2016 version of that.

Sharing your password for things like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go is technically a federal crime now.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling last week that makes it illegal under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The case they were hearing was about a guy who used a former co-worker’s password to access a database at his old company.  So it wasn’t really about streaming services.  But the way the ruling was worded makes it apply to things like Netflix too.

It’s still not clear if anyone will ever get prosecuted for it though, or what the penalty would be.  HBO or Netflix would have to press charges against you.  And just last year, the head of HBO said he doesn’t really care about password sharing.

So you can probably keep mooching off your friends and family and not worry about it.  But one of the Ninth Court justices who disagreed with the ruling said it threatens to “criminalize all sorts of innocuous conduct engaged in daily by ordinary citizens.”

 

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