Can You Legally Share Your HBO Go Password? - Law and Daily Life
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Can You Legally Share Your HBO Go Password?

With the new season of "Game of Thrones" set to premiere Sunday, HBO subscribers may be wondering: Can you legally share your HBO Go password with friends and family?

If you take HBO's CEO at his word, the premium cable TV company doesn't care if you do -- as long as it keeps viewers hooked on its programming.

Even if HBO looks the other way, is it technically legal to share your HBO Go password?

HBO Go's Terms of Use

There are very few laws that directly deal with streaming services like HBO Go or Netflix, so most of the legal limits on users' accounts comes from the companies' Terms of Use.

HBO CEO Richard Plepler told attendees at a Buzzfeed event in January that the company is aware of account sharing, but it sees it as a "terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of users," reports The Huffington Post.

Plepler believes that HBO Go password sharing has "no impact on the business," but what do the Terms of Use say?

HBO Go's Terms of Use don't speak directly to "sharing accounts," but these snippets might be helpful:

  • "Limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to access." This means the license to access HBO Go content is limited to the account holder alone.
  • "You may set up sub-accounts." Depending on your cable provider, you may have the ability to designate sub-accounts tied to your own, but these are supposed to be limited to "members of your immediate household."
  • "Not permit the disclosure of any Username and Password." The terms of use explicitly prohibit disclosing a username or password for unauthorized use.

Violating these terms may technically be seen as a breach of your contract with HBO/HBO Go, which may result in HBO terminating your HBO Go account -- although it already reserves the right to do this, even for no reason.

Other Potential Legal Concerns

The threat of being sued by HBO for violating its Terms of Use doesn't seem terribly real, especially given its CEO's attitude.

However, Andrew Couts, a writer at DigitalTrends.com, believes that you could be running afoul of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by allowing others "unauthorized access" to your HBO Go account. Kashmir Hill at Forbes agrees, writing that the federal law's broad terms may apply criminal penalties to password sharing for almost any streaming service.

So share your HBO Go password at your own risk, even if HBO is practically encouraging it.

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