The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in the UK said in a statement that password sharing on streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ was illegal, The Telegraph reported. Therefore, the piracy guidance issued by the British government suggests anyone sharing passwords in the UK could be in breach of copyright law – and even face criminal charges for fraud.
The guidance suggests thousands of people in the UK could be falling foul of the rules, as it is estimated that, for example, more than 100 million log-ins are shared for Netflix, including over 30 million in the United States and Canada alone, and that is not even counting the other streaming platforms that also allow their users to share passwords.
According to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), posting images onto social media without permissions from copyright holders constitutes piracy, as does streaming TV shows, films and live sports without paying the relevant subscription. The IPO published the advice in a statement online on Tuesday before quickly removing the reference to password sharing.
However, a spokesman confirmed the law and its guidance remained the same. “There are a range of provisions in criminal and civil law which may be applicable in the case of password sharing where the intent is to allow a user to access copyright protected works without payment,” the spokesman said. “These provisions may include breach of contractual terms, fraud or secondary copyright infringement depending on the circumstances,” the person added.