Is it illegal to share video streaming passwords with others?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A recent court ruling makes clear that using a password without permission is illegal. But does that mean it is illegal to share video streaming passwords?

Sharing video services isn't unusual, but can it get you in trouble? That is an easier question to ask than answer.

Have you ever lended out your Netflix ID or borrow a friends Hulu password?

Some people 7 On Your Side spoke with said yes.

There are many more people accessing Amazon's streaming service than there are account holders.

And you don't have to hand over your password or use someone else's password to be involved. For instance, who has access to your HBO account? "You are not the only person with that question or concern. You share it with your children, you share it with your spouse and you don't know who they have shared it with," Kiplinger's personal finance magazine staff writer Kaitlin Pitsker said.

She has been looking into the sharing of passwords. So are you allowed to give out your account number to other people? "It really depends on the terms and conditions with which ever service you are using. And that is going to vary from Hulu to Netflix, to HBO to Amazon Prime, or whatever account you are looking at sharing," Pitsker said.

So every company can make up its own rules, but most of the fine print boils down to just one word. "They're all using this word household and no one bothers to define household. Does household include your spouse? It's safe to say yes. What about your adult children off in college? I don't know," Pitsker said.

It is a judgment call at this time and there is no crackdown in sight, however that doesn't mean one isn't coming.

"People, over all should not be panicking about this, but they should keep an eye on it and be aware of who is using the account and know the rules so maybe you're bending them, but not breaking them, exactly," Pitsker said.
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