Tennessee Netflix Law: Password Sharing a Crime

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 06, 2011 6:53 AM

A Netflix law just hit the books. As of July 1 in Tennessee, Netflix password sharing can net you a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a $2,500 fine and/or a year behind bars.

And for repeat offenders? Well, they can look forward to felony charges and harsher punishments.

Tennessee residents, you have none other than the recording industry to thank for these changes.

Tennessee's new law doesn't just apply to Netflix password sharing, but instead makes it a crime to share passwords for subscription-based streaming sites, such as a Netflix, Hulu and Rhapsody, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Though its alleged aim is to punish hackers who steal and sell passwords, PC World notes that it also makes it illegal for subscribers to share their login with third parties.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Gerald McCormick, told the Los Angeles Times that the law isn't meant to punish Netflix password sharing under your own roof, but instead makes it illegal to share the information with people outside of your household.

The biggest problem with this new law is that it is going to be nearly impossible to enforce.

As Netflix told the Times, most subscription-based streaming sites limit password sharing in their Terms of Service. If they were able to accurately track and hone in on people who are sharing passwords, then the legislature wouldn't have felt the need to step in.

But the fact is that, absent extreme measures that would limit the usefulness of the services, no one will be able to stop Netflix password sharing.

The reality is that Tennessee's Netflix law appears to be a big joke.

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