Web Entertainment Theft Bill Passed in Tennessee
A groundbreaking measure that makes it a crime to use the log-in information of a friend, even with permission, to listen to or watch streaming media from services like Netflix or Rhapsody, has been passed by state lawmakers.
The bill, which is awaiting the signature of the governor, was pushed by officials of the recording industry in their attempt to prevent the potential loss of billions of dollars to unlawful sharing of music. The recording officials also hope that other states would follow the lead of Tennessee.
Although the measure was aimed at thieves and hackers who sell passwords in bulk, it could also be used against individuals who use a friend’s or relative’s subscription information.
This, however, does not include those who share their subscriptions with their spouse or other members of the family who are living under the same roof. On the other hand, blatant offenders, such as college students who share their log-in data to everyone on their dormitory floor, could get in trouble.
According to the House sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep. Gerald McCormick, “What becomes not legal is if you send your user name and password to all your friends so they can get free subscriptions.”
Under the newly passed measure, download services that suspect they are being ripped off can report the same to law enforcement authorities and file charges against offenders.
The bill extends the coverage of an existing law usually employed to prosecute individuals who steal cable TV or leave restaurants without paying their meals by adding “entertainment subscription service” to the list of services being protected by law.
According to the RIAA, Tennessee is the first state to update its theft-of-cable laws in the 21st century and deal with the growing trend of entertainment delivery through the Internet.