Call Your Friends (and Your Ex): Sharing a Netflix Account Might Be Illegal

netflix account
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We’ve all done it.

I mean, it just makes sense to share a Netflix login.

The service even allows multiple profiles, so you don’t have to wade through erroneous recommendations based off your best friend’s subpar preferences.

Turns out you can truly love someone, but not see eye to eye on Jennifer Aniston chick flicks.

But after a July 5th District Court ruling, it turns out you and your best friend (and her ex-boyfriend… and his cousin…) might just be committing a felony.

Can You Go to Jail for Sharing Your Netflix Account?

In a case involving a late employee named David Nosal who accessed his ex-company’s computer systems using a current employee’s credentials, the court found that password-sharing could constitute a punishable crime.

Accessing a protected computer “without authorization” of the system’s owner could be in violation of the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Uh-oh.

But you probably don’t have to change your identity (or, you know, just springe for your own darn account) quite yet.

There’s a big difference between trying to access an ex-employer’s information and sharing passwords with willing friends and family members.

Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt dissented with the Court’s opinion, writing that “in his view, the CFAA does not make the millions of people who engage in this ubiquitous, useful, and generally harmless conduct into unwitting federal criminals.”

Even Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is in on the “secret” — and doesn’t mind too much.

“We love people sharing Netflix whether they’re two people on a couch or 10 people on a couch,” Hastings told TechCrunch.

(I guess he doesn’t condone the bed-based variety of Netflix sharing. So not chill, Hastings.)

Want to Get Netflix for Free?

Even if they sent out squads to gather up all us guilty parties tomorrow, the whole thing’s moot for a Penny Hoarder — because you can get your very own Netflix login for free.

Whether or not you share the wealth? Well, that’s up to you.

Don’t worry. We won’t tell.

Your Turn: Do you share a Netflix login with friends and family?

Jamie Cattanach is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her writing has also been featured at Word Riot, DMQ Review, Hinchas de Poesia and elsewhere. Find @JamieCattanach on Twitter to wave hello.