Password Sharing for Entertainment Criminalized by New Tennessee Law

Password Sharing for Entertainment Criminalized by New Tennessee Law



People living in Tennessee should think twice before sharing their Netflix password to friends.

Governor Bill Haslam, on May 30, 2011, signed into law House Bill 1783/Senate Bill 1659. The new law, Public Chapter No. 348, makes it a criminal offense to use the login data of an account for any “entertainment subscription services.” These subscription services include Netflix, a popular video-on-demand streaming service, and Rhapsody, a similar service focused on streaming music over the internet.

Given that Tennessee’s capital is also the country music global center, it comes as no surprise that the music industry would exercise their massive influence to force lawmakers to protect the primary export of the state. In an era when music sales revenue is declining, vendors of that art are expending all efforts to plug every hole in the dike, one of the biggest being the unlawful sharing of media through the Internet.

According to Mitch Glazier, the executive vice president of public policy for the RIAA, the bill is a crucial protective measure as digital technology continues to evolve. In the span of ten years, the domestic revenue of the music industry nosedived from $15 billion to $7 billion.

Although the alleged targets of the measure are “hackers and thieves who sell passwords in bulk,” those who loaned their individual passwords to family and friends are not exempted from criminal prosecution under the new law. The full force of the law will be applied even if there is no intention to traffic in passwords.


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