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Netflix, the Feds, and You

"The Internet has been broken... AGAIN!"

There was news last week that stunned the world and the seemed to break the Internet.  Sharing your account password on Netflix and other online streaming services is now considered a federal crime, according to a July 5th federal court ruling by a three judge appeals court panel.


The Case

According to the ruling, it is now a federal crime subject to federal prosecution, under the United States Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This will not only affect Netflix users, but also users of popular paid streaming content services such as Amazon Prime, HBO Go, or Hulu.

The ruling for the case involved David Nosal, a former employee of a headhunting firm who continued to access his company’s information database using the password of someone still employed by the company.

The Effect on the Streaming Industry

How this will affect the paid streaming content industry is still unknown. Many experts believe there will be few, if any, prosecutions by the major streaming services. Richard Nieva, of c/net, reported that Netflix doesn’t seem to be concerned.

“We love people sharing Netflix, whether they’re two people on a couch or ten people on a couch,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “Moreover, Netflix’s interface allows account owners to create up to five profiles per account, meaning that it is designed to be shared, even if the terms of service indicate that the account owner should not reveal their password to anyone.”

Sharing Netflix is Now a Felony?

Though using someone’s password without permission has now been ruled a federal crime, it is not a felony, as has been widely yet falsely reported.

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Meet the Author

About / Bio
I'm a television critic for Entertainment Fuse and a writer for Texas Diversity Magazine. I reside in Houston, TX.

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