Tennessee Outlaws Sharing Netflix, Rhapsody Passwords

Tennessee Outlaws Sharing Netflix, Rhapsody Passwords

Legislature passes law to add entertainment subscription services to the types of services of which theft of constitutes a crime. Illegally consuming more than $501 worth of content from other peoples Netflix or Rhapsody accounts to become a felony.

The entertainment industry scored a perplexing victory in Tennessee a few a days ago with that state on the verge of enacting a bill that makes it a criminal offense to illegally use other peoples entertainment subscription services.

“What becomes not legal is if you send your user name and password to all your friends so they can get free subscriptions,” said the bill’s prime House sponsor, Rep. Gerald McCormick.

As the law previously stood, entertainment subscription services were not among the types of services for which avoiding the payment of constituted a crime.

It now “specifies that the offense of theft of services includes the theft of entertainment subscription services and provides for increased penalties when the offender has two or more prior offenses that involve theft of entertainment subscription services,” reads the bill’s summary.

It also provides for the operators of entertainment subscription services to report users who violate the law for prosecution.

“This bill specifies that any victim of theft of services would have legal standing to report the offense to law enforcement and to testify in support of corresponding criminal charges,” it adds.

This means that if the folks at Netflix or Rhapsody suspected a customer of illegally sharing their account with others (simultaneously cross country IP address logins for example) they could report them to law enforcement.

Where it gets even more interesting is the punishment.

Theft of property or services is:

(1) A Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property or services obtained is $500 or less;

(2) A Class E felony if the value of the property or services obtained is more than $500 but less than $1,000;

(3) A Class D felony if the value of the property or services obtained is $1,000 or more but less than $10,000;

(4) A Class C felony if the value of the property or services obtained is $10,000 or more but less than $60,000; and

(5) A Class B felony if the value of the property or services obtained is at least $60,000.

So, if you illegally consume less than $500 worth of content you face up to a year in jail and a $2500 fine, but a dollar more and you face up to six years and a $3000 fine! The latter also carries the distinction of a felony conviction, ruining many future job prospects.

The bill awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature who said although he doesn’t “know enough” about specifics of the legislation to have a clear stance he “would be in favor” of efforts that help combat music piracy.

Stay tuned.

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