UK says sharing Netflix passwords could be illegal

Posted:
in General Discussion
The UK government has decided to warn that giving someone your Netflix password could be illegal, though it isn't sure and won't do anything unless the police tell it to.

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Netflix logo


You would think that the UK government has enough to do with its economy tanking, families struggling to eat or to stay warm, and Brexit costing the nation $48 billion in lost tax revenue annually, but no. The UK government and whoever is Prime Minister this week, is very hot on preventing lawbreakers, despite itself regularly threatening to break international law.

According to BBC News, the UK government's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has announced that Netflix password sharing was both a criminal and a civil law matter.

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

BBC News asked specifically whether this means the UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not only could, but would charge password sharers with an offence.

"Any decision to charge someone for sharing passwords for streaming services would be looked at on a case-by-case basis," an IPO spokesperson replied. "As with all cases, if they are referred to the CPS by an investigator for a charging decision, our duty is to bring prosecutions where there is sufficient evidence to do so and when a prosecution is required in the public interest."

So if Netflix chose to involve the police, it could go to court and it could be a criminal case. The IPO qualifies every statement with "may" and "if," though, and anyway Netflix told BBC News it wasn't going to press charges on anyone.

Instead, as previously reported, Netflix said that it intends to "make it easy" for people to set up their own accounts, and in early 2023 it will roll out "sub-accounts" for people to pay extra for family and friends.

Consequently, the UK's controversial ex-Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries can relax. "I have Netflix but there are four other people who can use my Netflix account in different parts of the country," she told the UK's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, earlier in 2022.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,783member
    You would think that the UK government has enough to do with its economy tanking, families struggling to eat or to stay warm, and Brexit costing the nation $48 billion in lost tax revenue annually, but no. The UK government and whoever is Prime Minister this week, is very hot on preventing lawbreakers, despite itself regularly threatening to break international law.
    Literary gold. 10+. 

    edited December 2022 humanaftera11FileMakerFellerappleinsiderusern2itivguywatto_cobraJaiOh81logic2.6gilly33
  • Reply 2 of 19
    Sounds like Netflix is floating some FUD.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 19
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,284member
    Author sounds very angry. This announcement came from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
    So, this really would be their purview and not really using resources that would otherwise be used for other issues.
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 19
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,856member
    DAalseth said:
    You would think that the UK government has enough to do with its economy tanking, families struggling to eat or to stay warm, and Brexit costing the nation $48 billion in lost tax revenue annually, but no. The UK government and whoever is Prime Minister this week, is very hot on preventing lawbreakers, despite itself regularly threatening to break international law.
    Literary gold. 10+. 

    The 1% always get priority when it comes to order of enforcement, they will also get multiple app stores even though the people (users) didn’t ask for it.
    DAalsethJaiOh81watto_cobralogic2.6
  • Reply 5 of 19
    This is madness. How does this law work with families. Would you and your wife have to have separate accounts. Would a child old enough to have a Netflix account (I’d imagine the same age as a Facebook account holder) have to have their own account. 
    JaiOh81watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    LIke pirating software and music, people are thieves and they concoct reasons to justify their thievery. And they’re proud of it too. Netflix raised the price of their top tier to $20/mo so I canceled my subscription. I have no intention of stealing it by using someone else’s account password. 

    And people steal services because it’s easy. If they had to hack Netflix to get account and password info they wouldn’t would they. But the crime in this case is easy to commit and with little chance of discovery so hey, why not. Netflix is evil and they charge too much so stealing their service is justified, right? 
    edited December 2022 watto_cobrawilliamh
  • Reply 7 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    mike1 said:
    Author sounds very angry. This announcement came from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
    So, this really would be their purview and not really using resources that would otherwise be used for other issues.
    So now we have slog through political commentary too on this supposedly news and rumor site?
    elijahgmike1randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,759member

    You would think that the UK government has enough to do with its economy tanking, families struggling to eat or to stay warm, and Brexit costing the nation $48 billion in lost tax revenue annually, but no. The UK government and whoever is Prime Minister this week, is very hot on preventing lawbreakers, despite itself regularly threatening to break international law.

    Wow I had to check the URL to make sure this wasn’t some random guy on Reddit parroting their unwanted opinion. Bitter much? You have an issue with the government preventing lawbreakers? Presumably you would you be quite happy for someone to steal your property. 

    This, apparently, is not the place for political opinion. People in the forum get banned/silenced when they get political, so perhaps you should lead by example and not goad people into banned political discussion on an Apple rumour site. 
    edited December 2022 randominternetperson
  • Reply 9 of 19
    y2any2an Posts: 188member
    This is nonsense. Terms of service are in the contract and provide for family sharing. Now if one was to share outside that then it would be for Netflix to bring charges for breach of contract. The ICO would only have an interest if someone was hacking passwords and really seem to have overstated here. Yes there are more pressing things for the government to attend to, and disabling users from given locations is completely within Netflix’s control. Maybe someone from Netflix bought the ICO lunch and asked for a firm statement 😉
    elijahgDAalsethFileMakerFellerJaiOh81watto_cobradanox
  • Reply 10 of 19

    UPDATE 3:09pm

    The government appears to have updated the offending paragraph to remove any mention of password sharing.

    FileMakerFellern2itivguywatto_cobraJaiOh81
  • Reply 11 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    y2an said:
    This is nonsense. Terms of service are in the contract and provide for family sharing. Now if one was to share outside that then it would be for Netflix to bring charges for breach of contract. The ICO would only have an interest if someone was hacking passwords and really seem to have overstated here. Yes there are more pressing things for the government to attend to, and disabling users from given locations is completely within Netflix’s control. Maybe someone from Netflix bought the ICO lunch and asked for a firm statement 😉
    Stop with the legal mumbo jumbo of which you know nothing. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 19
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,759member
    lkrupp said:
    y2an said:
    This is nonsense. Terms of service are in the contract and provide for family sharing. Now if one was to share outside that then it would be for Netflix to bring charges for breach of contract. The ICO would only have an interest if someone was hacking passwords and really seem to have overstated here. Yes there are more pressing things for the government to attend to, and disabling users from given locations is completely within Netflix’s control. Maybe someone from Netflix bought the ICO lunch and asked for a firm statement 😉
    Stop with the legal mumbo jumbo of which you know nothing. 
    Ah you’re an expert on UK copyright law too? Well whoever would have guessed 🙃
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 19
    davidwdavidw Posts: 2,052member
    This is madness. How does this law work with families. Would you and your wife have to have separate accounts. Would a child old enough to have a Netflix account (I’d imagine the same age as a Facebook account holder) have to have their own account. 

    You are confusing "family" with "household". A Netflix account applies to a "household". Which can be anyone living under one roof, that is sharing an IP address. (it's the US Census definition of a "household"). it doesn't necessarily mean that everyone in the "household" have to be related. A "household" could consist of several unrelated roommates attending college or just living together to share rental cost or 2 different "families" living in the same home. For sure, Netflix don't mean a "household" to include a kid living in a dorm while attending college or a brother( or sister) living in another city or a mother (or father) living in another State. But they are not a problem for Netflix, if they are all living in the same "household".

    What I suspect is that this UK agency is looking after the copyright holders. I'm not sure, but Netflix is probably paying a license to broadcast copyrighted content based on the number of accounts they have and not how many times an account streams their copyright works  (like music subscriptions). In other words, one Netflix account could stream the same movie 10 times and the copyright owner won't get any more money.  And the copyright owners would still get paid, even if an account don't stream their works at all. So if one were to share a Netflix account with someone outside the "household" that should have their own account, the copyright owners aren't getting any credit for what that user is watching. When they would be, if those watchers were paying for a Netflix account, as required by Netflix, but not by any UK law. At least not by any UK law for now.
    edited December 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 19
    lkrupp said:
    LIke pirating software and music, people are thieves and they concoct reasons to justify their thievery. And they’re proud of it too. Netflix raised the price of their top tier to $20/mo so I canceled my subscription. I have no intention of stealing it by using someone else’s account password. 

    And people steal services because it’s easy. If they had to hack Netflix to get account and password info they wouldn’t would they. But the crime in this case is easy to commit and with little chance of discovery so hey, why not. Netflix is evil and they charge too much so stealing their service is justified, right? 
    This situation arises because of a change in technological capabilities, because of over-reach by the service providers and because of people's desire to share what they have. The RIAA set the bar for over-reach by contending that if there was any benefit to a consumer, however miniscule, then that meant a fee could be charged because how dare anyone try to stop a corporation from making a profit. People used to record songs off the radio onto audio cassettes and play them with a group of friends, or in a Walkman - overcoming a technological restriction to increase their own benefit and supposedly depriving the corporate behemoths of revenue rightfully earned. Then it was copying digital audio files to hard drives and CDs; not helped by the corporations charging for a new license simply because the content was now available on different physical media.

    More over-reach is exhibited by Disney, which benefitted hugely from enforcing (sorry, "lobbying for") changes to copyright law so that the duration is now much longer than most consumers would consider reasonable and which was (I think) the first company to change the wording of the contract between suppliers and purchasers of audiovisual content so that the intellectual property is licensed under increasingly consumer-unfriendly terms. Microsoft and Apple did similar things with software.

    As the corporations sought to extract ever more revenue, the pool of consumers with sufficient funds to justify paying for content shrank - and they noticed the shrinkage because not all of their friends/family could pay for things they were themselves enjoying. People have an innate desire to share with those whom they like, and the perception was that (a) they had paid for certain rights with that content and (b) there was no way the corporations could prove the contract violations in a cost-effective manner, so they shared individual products that they had "purchased".

    The current technological landscape allows for the modern miracle that is streaming. I don't see Netflix as engaging in any over-reach (and their response to this nonsense from a branch of the UK government is commendable), but streaming in the minds of the public is just a different way of watching TV, and (advertising-supported) TV is "free". There's a somewhat different perception depending on what country you're in (the UK has a TV license, the US has cable TV) but most people see television as a ubiquitous service that everyone has a right to. The legal implications are completely different, but until you change the perception of the populace the behaviour of the populace is unlikely to change - and in a democracy, the will of the majority of the populace tends to drive what laws get enforced. There seems to be a concerted effort on the part of businesses to treat each consumer individually, and do away with the concept of communal and societal groups of any nature; I think that is part of why people are so keen to share - fighting to keep a sense of belonging and to strengthen social bonds that are under threat.

    I think Netflix is trying hard to avoid doing what many of their larger competitors would do, trusting that by maintaining a positive perception of their business they'll do all right in the long run. I hope that's true.
    edited December 2022 watto_cobraelijahgjrg_uk
  • Reply 15 of 19
    According to BBC News, the UK government's Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has announced that Netflix password sharing was both a criminal and a civil law matter.
    I wonder which government office has recently been told its operating budget will be slashed?
    watto_cobraJaiOh81
  • Reply 16 of 19
    lkrupp said:
    LIke pirating software and music, people are thieves and they concoct reasons to justify their thievery. And they’re proud of it too. Netflix raised the price of their top tier to $20/mo so I canceled my subscription. I have no intention of stealing it by using someone else’s account password. 

    And people steal services because it’s easy. If they had to hack Netflix to get account and password info they wouldn’t would they. But the crime in this case is easy to commit and with little chance of discovery so hey, why not. Netflix is evil and they charge too much so stealing their service is justified, right? 
    I pay for 4 devices and if my mother lives on her own I still consider her on my family plan. It isn’t theft, and it’s 100% how Apple’s family plan works. Netflix is the scrooge here, and I’ll continue with this set up until it no longer functions. 

    The rest of your rant is bootlicking nonsense.  
    JaiOh81muthuk_vanalingamlogic2.6strongy
  • Reply 17 of 19
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 1,033member
    I don't care about Netflix but I don't know why the UK government would get involved.  On the other hand, the UK is the country (or group of countries whatever?) where you need to pay for a license for each television if you watch TV.  Apparently the government uses some technological means to determine if you are watching television without having paid for the license.  
  • Reply 18 of 19
    davidwdavidw Posts: 2,052member
    lkrupp said:
    LIke pirating software and music, people are thieves and they concoct reasons to justify their thievery. And they’re proud of it too. Netflix raised the price of their top tier to $20/mo so I canceled my subscription. I have no intention of stealing it by using someone else’s account password. 

    And people steal services because it’s easy. If they had to hack Netflix to get account and password info they wouldn’t would they. But the crime in this case is easy to commit and with little chance of discovery so hey, why not. Netflix is evil and they charge too much so stealing their service is justified, right? 
    I pay for 4 devices and if my mother lives on her own I still consider her on my family plan. It isn’t theft, and it’s 100% how Apple’s family plan works. Netflix is the scrooge here, and I’ll continue with this set up until it no longer functions. 

    The rest of your rant is bootlicking nonsense.  

    Netflix don't have a "Family Plan". Not yet anyway. When they do, it will cost extra to include a family member that don't live in the same household as the account holder. Just like how it cost extra for an Apple Family Plan.  Netflix only have 3 plans ... Basic, Standard and Premium.  (Basic with ads is not yet available everywhere.) And none of them are truly "Family Plans", though everyone in the same household, whether they are family or not, can use the account to stream a movie to devices inside the household. Right now, if you want to share your account with your mom that lives elsewhere, without violating any of Netflix rules, she can use your account with an iPad. Mobile devices are not require to use the same IP address as the one your household uses.




    AFAIK- It has always been like this. Just that Netflix wasn't strictly enforcing it before.

    A Netflix account is tether to a household like an ISP.  (Except for mobile devices.) Would you consider it "theft" if you were to pay for unlimited fiber and then ran an ethernet cable or install a mesh network, from your router over to your two next door neighbor homes, so they don't have to pay for an ISP?



  • Reply 19 of 19
    williamh said:
    I don't care about Netflix but I don't know why the UK government would get involved.  On the other hand, the UK is the country (or group of countries whatever?) where you need to pay for a license for each television if you watch TV.  
    Not a license per TV, no.

    It’s generally per premises, though there are all sorts of caveats for students away from the family home, mobile TVs, shared households with their own tenancies, etc. and is technically required if there is any equipment capable of receiving a broadcast signal (caveats apply here too: is an aerial plugged in? Can it receive live BBC iPlayer streamed programmes, etc)
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