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Legal to Share Your Netflix Account?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Is it legal to share your Netflix account? If you're among the nearly 30 million Americans with a Netflix streaming account, there's a good chance you're sharing it with friends and family.

But while Netflix seems to be encouraging sharing accounts with its new "profiles" feature, there is no legal guarantee that Netflix won't sue you for sharing.

Sharing Netflix may stand on uncertain legal ground, but here are some basic legal considerations to help you decide if sharing accounts is right for you.

Netflix's Terms of Use

Any customer who decides to sign up for a Netflix account will be asked to agree to the company's Terms of Use, which contain legal limitations and restrictions for what you can and can't do with your Netflix account.

Under "Netflix Service," the terms currently authorize an account holder to stream movies and TV shows on up to "six unique authorized Netflix ready devices" and limits the number on which you can watch simultaneously.

The sort of restrictions with streaming services like Netflix are essentially contract terms, defining the nature of the agreement you entered into by accepting Netflix's offer to exchange its services for a monthly fee.

If you violate those terms in any way, you are likely in breach of your contact with Netflix, which means the streaming company may have cause to sue you.

Is Sharing Passwords a Problem?

So can you get sued for sharing your Netflix account password? Yes and no.

Netflix's Terms of Use explicitly acknowledges that account owners will share their passwords -- but places all vicarious liability for shared use on the account owner. That means that you can share your password with as many people as you'd like, but you'll be on the hook if Netflix decides any one of your password borrowers has violated its Terms of Use.

While a Tennessee law criminalizes sharing Netflix and other entertainment subscription services in the same category as stealing cable TV, there is no indication that Netflix has plans to report Tennessee users.

Don't fret too much; Netflix is unlikely to sue or file charges against you for having more than six devices, or having all six streaming at once. The streaming provider is more likely to first send you a cease-and-desist letter demanding that you stop violating the Terms of Use or face your account being terminated.

In a worst-case scenario, a claim by Netflix against you for sharing your account will likely go to arbitration, where a judge will assist you and a Netflix lawyer in reaching a resolution without a trial or formal litigation.

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