Netflix Password Sharing Is Illegal, UK Government Agency Says

A British government agency says sharing passwords for streaming services like Netflix is against the law, the BBC reports(Opens in a new window).

New piracy guidance published by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) finds that Netflix password sharing is illegal because the practice breaks copyright law.

While the reference to password sharing has been removed from the agency’s website, an IPO spokesperson tells the BBC that password sharing is a criminal and civil 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.

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

The spokesperson added that it would be up to the streaming service provider to take action through the courts “if required.” 

A spokesperson for the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service tells the BBC that people could face prosecution for password sharing if there was a police investigation beforehand. 

“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.”

That said, there is no evidence, the BBC says(Opens in a new window), that British police forces would open an investigation into someone sharing a Netflix or other streaming service password. If they ever did, though, that would amount to an absurd amount of investigations. Research firm Digital i estimates that 4 million UK Netflix subscribers are sharing their passwords.

Netflix, whose CEO Reed Hastings once called account sharing a “positive thing(Opens in a new window),” is planning to make it harder for users to share their accounts with family and friends next year. In a shareholders’ letter(Opens in a new window) released alongside its Q3 2022 earnings report, the company wrote that it plans to monetize account sharing. 

Recommended by Our Editors

The monetization plan, which has already been tested in three Latin American countries, sees Netflix subscribers charged an extra $2.99 to let someone outside their household use their account. The company already limits the number of simultaneous streams per account and charges users more money if they want to add more simultaneous streams.

Freeloaders have a right to be worried: It’s also been reported that Netflix will potentially block IP addresses that don’t match the IP address of the main account holder. 

Back in April, the company estimated that 30 million Americans and Canadians are among the 100 million households across the world that stream Netflix through shared accounts. 

The toughened attitude to account sharing comes as Netflix faces declining subscribers and a more competitive streaming market than in previous years. In April, the company saw its stock plunge 30%(Opens in a new window) when it announced via an earnings report that it had lost subscribers for the first time in more than 10 years. It bounced back(Opens in a new window) a bit in Q3, though, with 2.4 million new subs.

What’s New Now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.”,”first_published_at”:”2021-09-30T21:30:40.000000Z”,”published_at”:”2022-08-31T18:35:24.000000Z”,”last_published_at”:”2022-08-31T18:35:20.000000Z”,”created_at”:null,”updated_at”:”2022-08-31T18:35:24.000000Z”})” x-show=”showEmailSignUp()” class=”rounded bg-gray-lightest text-center md:px-32 md:py-8 p-4 mt-8 container-xs” readability=”30.769230769231″>

Get Our Best Stories!

Sign up for What’s New Now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.

This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.

Facebook Comments Box

Hits: 0