The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) stated that anyone who shared their streaming service password would be breaking the copyright law. It is common in the UK for people to share their streaming service password with their friends and family regardless of whether or not they live with them. However, this is against the terms and service agreements that an individual agrees to when they purchase a Netflix subscription. Despite violating the agreements, Netflix has never indicated that they want to take legal action.
Recently, the Intellectual Property Office removed the reference to password sharing that was present on the government website, which caused citizens to believe that the ruling had been changed. However, a spokesperson confirmed that the previous legal position on password sharing has not changed, and neither has the Intellectual Property Office guidance. Therefore, password sharing is still a criminal and civil matter. The spokesperson stated that a range of provisions in criminal and civil law could be applied in the case of password sharing, where an individual attempts to access copyright-protected works without payment.
The Intellectual Property Office spokesperson continued to inform the citizens that sharing passwords may lead to a breach of contractual terms, secondary copyright infringement, and even fraud. The charge will depend on the circumstances of the password sharing. Although these provisions are in civil law, the service providers are the ones who will have to take charge through the courts if they see fit. However, no evidence suggests that Netflix or other streaming video operators working in the UK would do this.
In Netflix’s case, they have clarified that they want to make it easier for people to borrow others’ accounts to set up their own. They plan to introduce a feature that will allow an individual to transfer their profile to a new one and even create sub-accounts. However, the family or friend owning the account would have to pay extra for the latter. This feature is expected to launch in early 2023. Other streaming services, such as Amazon and Disney, have not yet cleared their position on the matter.
Additionally, there is no evidence to suggest that any police force active in the UK would be willing to open an investigation into such matters.