The UK copyright watchdog says sharing TV streaming passwords is illegal under media law | Daily News Byte

The UK copyright watchdog says sharing TV streaming passwords is illegal under media law

 | Daily News Byte

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According to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), millions of UK viewers are breaking the law by sharing their passwords for services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

The IPO, which published the new guidance in conjunction with Facebook and Instagram owner Meta, said password sharing violates copyright laws.

“Piracy is a major issue for the entertainment and creative industries,” the IPO said. “Pasting internet images into your social media without permission, or accessing movies, TV series or live sports events through Kodi boxes, hacked Fire Sticks or apps without paying a subscription is a copyright infringement and you could be committing a crime.”

The IPO originally used the phrase “password sharing on streaming services” explicitly in its guidance published Monday, but later changed the phrase to “accessing … without paying a subscription.”

Netflix estimates that more than 100 million households access its services globally for free through password sharing, including up to 4 million subscribers in the UK, which it has tolerated despite breaches of its terms and conditions.

Earlier this year the company announced plans to break the practice by offering subscribers the option to add additional “sub-accounts” or “additional members” for a small additional monthly fee.

The plan, which Netflix is ​​introducing as a move to boost revenue as the global streaming boom stalls, is expected to be introduced in Britain next year.

The IPO said the practice of password sharing is a criminal and civil offense and those who do so can theoretically face prosecution.

“There are a number of provisions in criminal and civil law that may apply in cases of password sharing where the intent is to allow a user to access copyright-protected works without payment,” an IPO spokesperson said.

“These provisions may include breach of contract terms, fraud or secondary copyright infringement depending on the circumstances. Where these provisions are provided in civil law, it will be up to the service provider to take court action, if necessary.

Pay TV operators such as Sky have been aggressive in taking legal action to crack down on businesses and consumers who illegally feed entertainment and sports programming, but streaming companies have shown no inclination to go down.

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