September 19, 2023
International Technology

The UK government has indicated that sharing passwords for Netflix could be a breach of the law.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has reiterated that sharing passwords for online streaming services such as Netflix is illegal according to UK laws. The agency said on Tuesday that the practice contravenes copyright law and is punishable in both criminal and civil law.Despite the common practice of people who don’t live together sharing their streaming service passwords, this goes against the terms of service agreements. Furthermore, Netflix has yet to indicate any legal action towards those who do share passwords.

Despite the IPO removing the direct reference to password sharing from its guidance on the government website, a spokesperson has confirmed that the legal position remains the same and that the guidance was not amended. The IPO said that password sharing is a criminal and civil offence.

“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,” it said.

The potential for breach of contractual terms, fraud or secondary copyright infringement, in certain circumstances, may be included in civil law. If necessary, a service provider would take action through the courts.However, Netflix, Amazon, and Disney have stated that they do not plan to pursue any of these measures.

To the contrary, Netflix intends to make it easier for people to set up their own accounts, switch their profiles to a new account, and create sub-accounts to pay extra for family or friends. This feature is expected to roll out more broadly in early 2023. When asked, the BBC sought comment from the streaming services operators regarding these plans.

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