According to a government agency in the United Kingdom, password sharing for streaming services such as Netflix is an unlawful act. However, it is up to the service providers to take action through criminal or civil courts.
UK government says Netflix password sharing is both a criminal and a civil law matter
In a new report from BBC News, the publication brings forth a recent announcement from the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The announcement states that Netflix password sharing is both a criminal and 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 announcement states. “These provisions may include breach of contractual terms, fraud or secondary copyright infringement, depending on the circumstances.”
The IPO’s announcement goes on to say that it would “be up to the service provider to take action through the courts if required.” It seems highly unlikely that any major streaming service in the United Kingdom would do this.
On the topic of criminal law, BBC News reached out to the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to ask if users could face prosecution for password sharing.
Any decision to charge someone for sharing passwords for streaming services would be looked at on a case-by-case basis, with due consideration of the individual context and facts of each case,” a spokesperson told BBC News. “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.”
In March 2021, it was reported that Netflix was testing a way to crack down on freeloaders or password borrowers. The test involved a verification process that made it difficult for users to log in to an account via borrowed passwords.
The streaming giant abandoned that plan and announced a cheaper £4.99 ad-supported tier in October 2022 instead. The plan features components of the existing Basic, Standard, and Premium plans such as an extensive library of content, a personalized viewing experience, and availability on a wide range of TV and mobile devices.
Netflix also told BBC News that it will be rolling out new features early next year that will “make it easy” for users borrowing others’ accounts to set up their own, transfer their profile into a new account and create “sub-accounts” for people to pay extra for friends and family.