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UK government agency says sharing streaming platform passwords is illegal

Netflix logo on a TV screen and a hand with a remote pointing to the TV

Sharing passwords to your streaming service accounts is illegal according to the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the BBC has reported. Sharing your account with others in your home is fine and doesn’t breach terms of service agreements but sharing outside your home is against the terms and the IPO says it’s also a violation of copyright protections.

Commenting on the matter, the IPO says:

"There are a range of provisions in criminal and civil law which may be applicable in the case of password sharing where the intent is to allow a user to access copyright-protected works without payment.

These provisions may include breach of contractual terms, fraud or secondary copyright infringement, depending on the circumstances.

Where these provisions are provided in civil law, it would be up to the service provider to take action through the courts if required."

While you may be breaking the law by sharing accounts, the chances of action actually being taken against you don’t seem that high. In fact, Netflix has said that it’s going to roll out sub-accounts where you pay a small fee of $2.99 per month to share your account outside of your household.

The phenomenon of password sharing is quite high in the UK with a quarter of UK Netflix subscribers doing so. One high-profile person that was reported to have done this was Nadine Dorries MP, the former Culture Secretary. She said that she shares her account with her mother and kids, and they’re not all under the same roof.

Netflix’s focus has turned to password sharing this year because it saw a loss of subscribers in April for the first time in more than a decade. People's cost of living is rising meaning Netflix subscriptions are one of the first things to be axed and Netflix wants to limit this loss of subscribers.

Source: BBC News

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