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Old 06-02-2011, 02:37 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is sharing your Netflix password like stealing cable?

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Tennessee lawmakers think that sharing a Netflix password is like stealing cable. Today, lawmakers in the state passed a new measure that criminalizes using a friend’s login for entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Rhapsody. All the bill needs now is the governor’s signature, and the AP reports that Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to sign the bill.

“I don’t know enough about that legislation, but if it’s combating that issue [music piracy], I would be in favor of it,” Haslam said. The RIAA and recording industry have a strong presence in Nashville.

Once signed, if you are caught using an entertainment service that is not under your name, you could be heavily fined, charged with a misdemeanor and sent to jail, or charged with a felony, even if the password was given to you willingly. That’s right, a felony. While the legislation is mainly aimed at those who sell passwords in bulk, the bills sponsors admit that its language is so vague that it could be used to target small offenders like friends who share passwords or groups of kids in college dorm rooms.

“What becomes not legal is if you send your user name and password to all your friends so they can get free subscriptions,” said the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Gerald McCormick.

All it takes is a call from one of these services and you could be charged with a felony. The legislation was lobbied by the music recording industry and is a sort of 21st century addition to the cable stealing laws that exist today. It adds “entertainment subscription service” to the list of services protected by law. The question is, do services like Netflix or Rhapsody need laws like this to protect them?
Stealing cable

While I am no expert on the subject, detecting cable theft was not an easy task back when these laws were first implemented. Feasibly, someone could buy a splitter and share his or her connection with a neighbor or an apartment complex could wire its tenants up for a while without being noticed. Black boxes, which descramble television signals without authorization, are another way to accomplish theft (or willing sharing) of a neighbor’s service. The most common ways cable thieves and sharers have been identified are through technicians noticing the hookup or a neighbor reporting the problem or poor service. More sophisticated, remote means of detection do exist.

A Massachusetts cable theft document explains some of the reasons this legislation was enacted, most of which sound like a lobbying effort by the cable industry: “added service calls, additional system maintenance and lost revenue can increase everyone’s cable rates. Indeed, theft of cable service costs the cable industry an estimated 5.1 billion dollars per year! This increases the cable operator’s cost of doing business and may increase your rates. Consequently, the honest customer ends up paying for those who illegally receive services for free.”

$5.1 billion dollars per year is, of course, a number that the cable industry came up with, but theft of things like cable is impossible to accurately put into dollars. We would have to know how many of those stealing their cable would actually purchase it if they weren’t sharing or stealing. Still, some money has likely been lost due to cable thieves and overly-friendly neighbors.
Sharing Netflix and other passworded services

So what is so different about sharing Netflix, Rhapsody, and other “entertainment services” passwords? Well, unlike cable companies back in the day (they may be able to detect theft better now that cable is digital), entertainment services like Netflix know exactly when you log into their Internet service, what you watch and listen to, who your ISP is, and when you log off, among other things. They know what device you’re logged into and they know when you log in from two or more accounts simultaneously. In the case of Netflix specifically, it allows users to log in and watch from a myriad of devices, many of which are mobile. However, it also limits usage where it deems necessary.

I have firsthand experience with this. When I moved several hours away from a former roommate late last year, I still had his Netflix account connected to my Nintendo Wii. However, due to inter-device policy or our physical distance, Netflix limited usage of my former roommate’s Xbox and my Wii to one device at a time. If I started watching a show, it would kick him off. Likewise, if he began watching a show, I would be kicked off the service. This is one example of an entertainment services company dealing with these problems itself. With no law on the books, Netflix has kindly persuaded me to pay for my own streaming account; however, under a law like this, I would not be paying Netflix $8 a month and I could be in jail.

If any entertainment services company believes a customer is stealing or abusing its service, then that action is almost certainly a breach of the “terms and conditions” that customer agreed to when he or she signed up. Why can’t Rhapsody or Netflix simply warn and boot off offending users on their own? They have the power to remove access to those stealing or leeching service as well by requiring a user to change his or her password or forcing a user onto a “family plan” of sorts.
What else should be illegal?

If state, local, or federal governments would like to continue wasting our tax dollars on frivolous items industries should deal with themselves, I have a few more suggestions for them.

Smartphone tethering: Tethering your smartphone to your computer to share your Internet connection without paying your wireless carrier an extra $10 bucks isn’t illegal, but it could be! Verizon and AT&T are already dealing with this issue by sending warnings to users and charging them extra for tethering, but why make them do the hard work? Just have them call up law enforcement with a list of 25,000 names. The law can deal with it for them.

Sneaking into a movie: Every movie you sneak into is potential lost revenue for the theater, and technically, it is already illegal. While most theaters post ticket takers and guards, removing offending “trespassers” themselves, why force the theater to do this? Instead, the police should have separate units assigned to guard movie theaters from cheapsters. Almost everyone has sneaked into a movie at least once. They should all be in jail, right?

Making a mix CD for a friend: Now, this is pretty 90s, I know, but why didn’t the government get more involved in the dark art of mixes? After all, the RIAA has certainly shown that it doesn’t want friends to share music with their friends. While we argue that things like sharing and making mixes could promote more music interest from all parties involved–which would result in future album purchases and possibly lead to a myriad of related sales opportunities, including concerts–it isn’t up to us. If we’re to only focus on the negative impacts of music and file sharing, then a big government crackdown on blank CDs should have happened a while ago.
Enough already

The U.S. federal government has a lot on its plate already and State governments are failing to meet their budgets by the dozen. Why are we pandering to fears by a few lobbying industries over issues that appear to be fairly easy for entertainment services companies to take care of themselves? Cable theft and Internet services are two different beasts, but neither need government regulation. Users pay for these services. If Comcast or Netflix deem them bad customers, then they are welcome to kick them off. It doesn’t need it to be a felony.
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Old 06-02-2011, 01:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is sharing your Netflix password like stealing cable?

Sharing a password isn't like stealing, it IS stealing.
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Old 06-02-2011, 02:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is sharing your Netflix password like stealing cable?

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Sharing a password isn't like stealing, it IS stealing.
+1. I live in Tennessee so I was surprised when I first heard about this the other day. My first impression was, "Who are they to tell me what I can or cannot do?" But I have now thought it through and agree with the law. If I pay for a service that payment covers MY use of the service... not everyone else's. I could see how this could get sticky if I wanted to use my Netflix account from somewhere other than my house or some similar situation, but that would be the only time.
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is sharing your Netflix password like stealing cable?

I agree with this but people with multiple units like me and my gf, and my friend, hook up simultaneously under the same ISP that basically has its own single IP that is distributed throughout wirelessly. So technically according to this anyone who hooks up to Netflix on our ISP can be jailed because its all of us looking we are coming from the same internet to the outside web. To be a bit more specific our ISP has one big pipe with a single IP and distributes that net through radio towers and our individual IPs come from their servers DHCP. So, when say somebody trys to hook up to my servers DC++ connection they are pinging my ISP servers first and are routed to my server without interference. I could see this being a problem since it will look bad even though we all have individual accounts (besides my and my gf). We can't stream at the same time anyways and we use the same account on both of our Live profiles. I also see one other problem which will be a huge gray area to all of this. So many people have free accounts so if it's technically free then the stuff is basically free reign anyways, right? Most they can do is kick people off trying to all use one account. (To be specific our account with Netflix is free, as I don't really use it much anyways). Just thought of something else that is a severe gray area. You can pay to have 3 Xboxs on one single account. How will they deal with this if 3 different Live accounts, 3 different ISPs, and 3 different users are hooked up to one account?
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Old 06-02-2011, 10:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is sharing your Netflix password like stealing cable?

I live at home with my mom and her bf. He has a son who uses our household Netflix under his name when he is both here and at his moms. How does this work and how do we establish this if it were to come to law?
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Old 06-02-2011, 11:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is sharing your Netflix password like stealing cable?

I am curious about this though, from the way this article sounds, it seems as if no one but you can watch that netflix account, so that means that if your children want to watch it in the next room over, on another console, they would be "stealing" the stream, would they not?
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Old 06-05-2011, 04:32 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is sharing your Netflix password like stealing cable?

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I am curious about this though, from the way this article sounds, it seems as if no one but you can watch that netflix account, so that means that if your children want to watch it in the next room over, on another console, they would be "stealing" the stream, would they not?
That is exactly what it is saying.
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Old 06-05-2011, 08:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is sharing your Netflix password like stealing cable?

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Once signed, if you are caught using an entertainment service that is not under your name, you could be heavily fined, charged with a misdemeanor and sent to jail, or charged with a felony, even if the password was given to you willingly.
Sorry but I dont agree. What is the point of having such service if EVERYONE must have an account? My wife signed up for service with Netflix. According to this Law I would be charged a felony for using HER account instead of spending DOUBLE the amount and having an account for myself to use the service as well. Not to mention having to create and account for a 4 year old so my child can watch it to or end up having her get a felony charge as well. Since it would not be in the childs name either.

The law is to vague and it specifies NAME, not address or family or household. That is wrong. Does that mean my wife has to get internet in her name instead of mine to use the service or wouldnt that be stealing my internet since it isnt IN HER NAME? Sorry folks but the wording is to generic. I can understand how they want to prevent sharing to places and others, but they are also preventing it from being shared in the same household as well.

That would mean anyone who used the service in the Trotter household that isnt the account holder would also be charged a felony. You would have to be present at all times. They couldnt even watch the DVD, if you use that aspect of the service.

Inputting the information of my Wife's Netflix account onto my Wii, PS3 and XBOX of which she doesnt use the latter two doesnt constitute me stealing anything from her. She knows she can use them at any time. But this law clearly states I would be a felon. I dont agree and think this Law should be better written before it is even considered to be passed. It is to generic and people will be in an uproar over it. No reason why I should have to pay for the service 3 times in my house so my entire family can watch Netflix. But this Law is saying that I should. If that is the case how is it not stealing cable if the bill is only in my name and my wife watches it? Or my child watches it? What if we have company over? Do they have to cover their eyes?

See how far this bill has yet to go. There is yet so much that is not even covered that it raises more questions than anything. Sharing the password is much more than having myself and Trotter use it. It also would be considered sharing in the same household.
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Old 06-05-2011, 10:18 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Is sharing your Netflix password like stealing cable?

I doubt the intent is to prosecute those using a password within the same household. I haven't read the exact wording of the law but if it is vague, I'm sure it will be challenged in court.
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Old 06-05-2011, 01:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Sorry but I dont agree. What is the point of having such service if EVERYONE must have an account? My wife signed up for service with Netflix. According to this Law I would be charged a felony for using HER account instead of spending DOUBLE the amount and having an account for myself to use the service as well. Not to mention having to create and account for a 4 year old so my child can watch it to or end up having her get a felony charge as well. Since it would not be in the childs name either.

The law is to vague and it specifies NAME, not address or family or household. That is wrong. Does that mean my wife has to get internet in her name instead of mine to use the service or wouldnt that be stealing my internet since it isnt IN HER NAME? Sorry folks but the wording is to generic. I can understand how they want to prevent sharing to places and others, but they are also preventing it from being shared in the same household as well.

That would mean anyone who used the service in the Trotter household that isnt the account holder would also be charged a felony. You would have to be present at all times. They couldnt even watch the DVD, if you use that aspect of the service.

Inputting the information of my Wife's Netflix account onto my Wii, PS3 and XBOX of which she doesnt use the latter two doesnt constitute me stealing anything from her. She knows she can use them at any time. But this law clearly states I would be a felon. I dont agree and think this Law should be better written before it is even considered to be passed. It is to generic and people will be in an uproar over it. No reason why I should have to pay for the service 3 times in my house so my entire family can watch Netflix. But this Law is saying that I should. If that is the case how is it not stealing cable if the bill is only in my name and my wife watches it? Or my child watches it? What if we have company over? Do they have to cover their eyes?

See how far this bill has yet to go. There is yet so much that is not even covered that it raises more questions than anything. Sharing the password is much more than having myself and Trotter use it. It also would be considered sharing in the same household.
Unfortunately they don't write laws for everyone to agree upon. I think nobody in their right mind will agree to this.

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I doubt the intent is to prosecute those using a password within the same household. I haven't read the exact wording of the law but if it is vague, I'm sure it will be challenged in court.
Read his quote, not under your name. That is all you have to read basically. I raised a bunch of questions in my own post. What about the family plan they offer? What about my ISP's IP problem? What about 2 Xbox's using the same account under the same roof but it's the same person yet different Live profiles? What if it is in my gf's name, yet it is my email address?
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