Password Sharing on Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV & Others | Legal or Illegal?


Is Password Sharing legal on Netflix? What about on Sling TV? Hulu? We know you all do it (cause we do too!), so thought we’d look into it today.

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It was awful. It was embarrassing. My wife had to post my bail. My mother found out, all my friends found out…. what happened, you ask? I shared my Netflix password.

Technically, password sharing on TV streaming services is not illegal … probably. But maybe it is? I’m not a lawyer, I’m just going with the best interpretations I can find. And it’s unclear at best.

There were a bunch of breathless headlines a few years ago about it being illegal to share your Netflix password, but those came from a case that was more about corporate espionage than about sharing your password with your roommate. The whole thing was based on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was enacted in 1984, and today it’s … unclear.

So, if the courts won’t tell us, we’ll have to dig into this ourselves.

I looked into the Terms of Use for the Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and Playstation Vue. What I found is that they are mostly…. unclear.

Netflix is pretty clear: it says that your account is “for your personal and non-commercial use only and may not be shared with individuals beyond your household.” But you couldn’t throw a rock anywhere in America without hitting someone who shares a Netflix password. So I’m not really sure what to make of that.

Hulu IMPLIES that it doesn’t want you to share passwords outside the home, but implications aren’t legally binding, as far as I know. Instead, Hulu goes the technical route and says that any streaming outside of your home network would have to be done on a mobile device, which would cut down on piggybackers using their own Rokus or Apple TVs or whatever to watch Hulu on the big screen.

Sling TV states pretty clearly that “you may not reveal or share your Login Credentials with anyone.” But then … what about the other simultaneous streamers, because you get 3 simultaneous streams with the Sling Blue package. I assume they’ll need to log in using your Sling info….

Playstation Vue doesn’t mention password sharing at all, as far as I could tell.

Anyway, I’m not going to go through every streaming service; the point is, it’s a mess, and there is no standard.

So, if you do share your password, what’s the worst that could happen? I guess it’s possible that one of these companies could come after you. Personally, I’m not losing any sleep over that possibility. A crackdown would probably just take the form of warning emails and then MAYBE account shutdowns. Or, more likely, they’ll just take the Hulu route and use technical solutions to try to limit the problem. When I asked one of these major companies, which shall remain nameless, they basically confirmed this view.

So, because I’m not a lawyer and I’m not here to tell you how to interpret something like a Terms of Use document, I’ll just tell you what I PLAN TO DO. I’ll just stick with the simultaneous streams rules set up by each company, and for now, I figure I’ll probably by okay. Because frankly, Netflix is happy to just create a bunch of Netflix addicts, even if some of them aren’t paying for it, because chances are, eventually…they will.

So, am I going to prison? No. Sued? Probably not. Account shut down? Meh… Maybe one day. Am I being too acquiescent by toeing any line at all? Let me know in the comments below. Do you guard your passwords or share them like candy?

Check out our roundup of all the major streaming services-