Tech by VICE

Using a Friend's Netflix Password Could Land You in Prison

But streaming services couldn't care less.

by VICE Staff
Jul 12 2016, 1:07pm

Photo via Flickr user Televisione Streaming

If you're one of those people who still uses your ex-boyfriend's mom's Netflix password to wriggle your way out of paying $10 a month to binge watch Orange Is the New Black, the joke's on you—it's now a federal crime to use someone else's password to access an online account.

In a Ninth Circuit Court ruling earlier this month, three judges decided sharing passwords on Netflix or HBO Go or whatever without authorization is illegal under the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Variety reports. That's bad news for many reasons. The most obvious, Judge Stephen Reinhardt pointed out in his dissenting opinion, is that the ruling would basically turn a ton of people into "unwitting federal criminals."

But before you say goodbye to Game of Thrones and lose your old college roommate's HBO Go password, it doesn't look like streaming services are really that worried about password sharing as it is.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said that password sharing can sometimes actually drive subscriptions. In an interview with Buzzfeed, HBO's CEO Richard Plepler basically called password sharing a gateway drug.

"It's not a fundamental problem," he told Buzzfeed, "and the externality of it is that it presents the brand to more and more people, and gives them an opportunity hopefully to become addicted to it. What we're in the business of doing is building addicts."

So unless your ex is a vengeful monster who wants to punish you after noticing that someone has been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls lately, you probably won't wind up in jail for a little piggybacked streaming action. Keep binging.

Read: Binge-Watching TV Is Making Us Depressed, According to an Incredibly Depressing Study