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Netflix and Chill Out with Password Sharing
Chad Stonebrook
January 18, 2019

Are you still using your best friend’s ex-boyfriend’s cousin’s Netflix account even though you could easily spend the $8.99 a month for your own subscription? With the development of a new software by Synamedia, it might soon be time to pay the piper and register for your own account.

This new software, called Credentials Sharing Insight (“CSI”), uses artificial intelligence to identify any unusual sharing and streaming activity across accounts. The software then flags the offending account and sends the information to the service provider. Repercussions include more passive actions like targeted advertising for multiple user accounts, but can be as severe as blocking the IPN address from creating or accessing future accounts. Netflix does not currently report using this technology, but with people sharing passwords for multiple other online services like Amazon Prime and Hulu, it would not be surprising if CSI became widely used.

Is password sharing actually illegal, or is it just dishonest? In 2016, the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals held that sharing password protected information violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This is not exactly the same as sharing a Netflix password, but with the fast-paced evolution of technology, it often takes a while for the courts to catch up. Whether sharing your Netflix password specifically is illegal could change with newer court decisions.

Currently, Netflix’s Terms of Use states that the service an any content viewed through the service may not be shared with individuals beyond your household. If you’re concerned about platforms you may have your password to implementing CSI technology, the easiest fix is to change your password and keep it to yourself.

Lardiere McNair is dedicated to staying on top of modern changes and interpretations to the law. To keep up to date on the legality of password sharing, be sure to check back in with our blog.

Tori Smith is a Law Clerk at Lardiere McNair, LLC. To read more about our firm, please visit www.lmcounsel.com.
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