Richard Peirce says feds won’t be knocking on your door for sharing your Netflix or Hulu password (KYW Newsradio)

July 15, 2016

peirce_r_smIn a recent KYW Newsradio story titled “Could Sharing Your Netflix Password Make You A Federal Criminal,” Eckert Seamans IP attorney Richard Peirce discusses new federal court ruling that suggests sharing your passwords to streaming sites like Netflix, HBO Go, and Hulu could land you behind bars.

“It doesn’t appear that these services like Netflix or HBO as of yet has made any type of big issue over that. I would imagine that many of these services probably have specific rules that the sharing of passwords is frowned upon. It’s probably not something that these services are necessarily going to be in favor of in any type of high endorsement perspective but they’re not yet at the point where they’ve turned it into a legal issue,” said Peirce.

The case actually had nothing to do with video streaming.

“These were former employees who at one point had access to the computer networks had their permissions specifically revoked and then they went and found a back door to get access back to those services. That’s what the majority opinion focuses on to determine their was criminal liability under the statue,” Peirce explained.

In a dissent, a judge argued the ruling could hypothetically lead to a precedent where anyone who shared a password could be seen as violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

“Until there’s some pressure from the streaming services for prosecutors to use the statutes because there’s really high economic harm taking place, I would be very surprised to at least see anything in the near future,” said Peirce.

Peirce focuses his practice on trademark, copyright, Internet, and e-commerce issues. These include issues related to Internet brand protection strategies, online brand disputes, user generated content, online defamation and product disparagement disputes, search engine advertising, website linking, CAN-SPAM, copyright disputes and fair use, social media, false advertising, website policies and privacy, licensing, domain name disputes, and the FTC guidelines on the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.

A text version of the audio interview can be viewed on the CBS Philly website. (Access to content on third-party websites may require subscription.)

Share This Post