Is it illegal to share your Netflix password? NO

A few days ago, major media outlets sounded the alarm – Netflix freeloaders were going to jail. The internet gave a collective cry of panic. Except it wasn’t true. Not even a little.

Here’s what did happen. Some federal court judge in California, in a case completely unrelated to Netflix, mentioned the company in his statement of dissent from the ruling of the court and everyone lost their minds. The ruling doesn’t necessarily have wide-spread implications for password sharing. The court decided the employee in the case had utilized someone else’s password with malicious intent to circumvent access that had been revoked upon termination. A few journalists glanced at that ruling, saw Netflix mentioned somewhere in the brief, and made a wild leap to a whole bunch of conclusions. Even if the ruling was relevant (which it doesn’t appear to be), Netflix has been clear about this issue. They are cool with you sharing your account.  So chill out and return to streaming your regularly scheduled programming.

Now that we’ve put that fire out, let’s cover the rules about sharing a streaming account. Because beyond Netflix, there are plenty of services that allow you to share your account with multiple users. Let’s take a peek at four fairly popular ones and discuss the rules for sharing. Because sharing is caring people. Netflix is totally with you on this one.

“We love people sharing Netflix. That’s a positive thing, not a negative thing.”

CEO Reed Hastings, 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas


Four streaming services and their rules on sharing



How much you can share depends on the plan you’re paying for. Netflix isn’t worried about how many users you have on your account, but they do only accommodate streaming from one, two, or four devices at a time depending on your membership level. You can, however, set-up as many as five individual profiles to personalize the viewing experience for different users on the same account.

If you love the legal jargon, read Netflix’s terms of use here.


HBO GO and Now

HBO bills their streaming service as a “household” account and they expect that their customers won’t share their passwords beyond their own home. HBO does allow, however, for three streams to occur concurrently and the company has admitted they see sharing as “a terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers,” so they’re unlikely to be cracking down on the practice anytime in the near future.  To be safe, we recommend following the rules and keeping it in the family.

Double check HBO Now’s terms of use here if it’ll make you feel better.


Amazon Prime

In the past year or two, Amazon has tightened the rules a bit on household Prime memberships. Currently, a Prime account can cover up to two adults and four children, but only two concurrent streams are allowed. Amazon distributes up to two separate log-ins, but they’re for adults only. Sorry, kiddos. Get in line and start paying some bills.

Give Amazon Prime’s Terms and Conditions a once over before you sign on for streaming.


Google Play & Apple Family

Google announced just this week that they are releasing a “Google Family Play Library” plan that will accommodate up to 6 users sharing media, including video, at the same time. This is in response to Apple’s Family Sharing Plan, which employs a similar approach to allow streaming for multiple users in one household.

Google Play’s Terms of Service are available here if you want to give them a gander. You can also see Apple’s here. Good luck getting through all that without needing glasses.



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