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Piracy

Sharing HBO Go Accounts Could Result In Prison 221

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you-are-a-criminal dept.
coolnumbr12 writes "In a recent New York Times article called 'No TV? No Subscription? No Problem?' Jenna Wortham noted how she used, 'the information of a guy in New Jersey that I had once met in a Mexican restaurant.' Dave Their of Forbes admitted that he used his sister's boyfriend's father's account in exchange for his Netflix information. But this is stealing under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which makes it a misdemeanor with a maximum one-year prison sentence to 'obtain without authorization information from a protected computer.' It is also a violation of the Digital Millennium Copy Act because it is knowingly circumventing a protection measure set up to prevent someone from watching content like 'Game of Thrones' without paying. Forbes points out that a crafty prosecutor could also claim that using an HBO Go password without paying is a form of identity theft."
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Sharing HBO Go Accounts Could Result In Prison

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @02:09AM (#43970271)
    Of course this is theft of service! Someone is benefitting from the service of these companies without paying. That's a lost sale right there!!! The true travesty is that people within the same household are not allowed to be charged for a subscription to these services as well... Damn freeloaders!
    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @02:39AM (#43970377) Homepage

      We're not talking about the lack of availability for a family-plan here.
      This is about the lack of availability of a random-people-I-once-met-but-don't-even-know-their-name-plan.

      As much as I dislike DRM, DMCA and big-content corporations in general, I can't really fault them on this one.

      • by niftydude (1745144) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @04:07AM (#43970683)

        As much as I dislike DRM, DMCA and big-content corporations in general, I can't really fault them on this one.

        The fault with this situation is that the punishment should fit the crime, and in this case, clearly does not.

        Are you really suggesting that the punishment for watching a bit of tv that you haven't paid for should carry a possible one year prison penalty? This is a non-violent crime which only has very small financial consequences. As such, the penalty should be a fine of some sort. What it would have normally cost to subscribe to the service, with a small punitive multiplier would be appropriate.

        Taking someone's liberty for a year for such a small infraction is tyrannical in every sense of the word.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Culture20 (968837)
          Yeah, potentially dangerous actions like aggressive driving are just fines (and maybe loss of license). Sometimes just Warnings. A prison sentence for account sharing is insane. If the person is using it to actually pirate shows (copying them to DVD and reselling them; the *real* definition of media piracy), then they should get prison time for that one, not this one (should still be a fine, and not a [value of TV watched times ten thousand] style of fine either).
          • by Flammon (4726) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @08:32AM (#43972409) Homepage Journal

            Prison should be reserved for people who pose a serious threat to society. Is copying a DVD and selling it a serious threat?

            • by TheCarp (96830)

              Somebody better tell this to the government because they seem to have tossed this idea out the window as soon as they realized there was money in building building prisons. I knew a guy who was jailed for years over a package of flowers that he was receiving in the mail.

            • by X0563511 (793323)

              It is when they use it to fund organized crime.

              If you're just selling a few from your car to make ends meet... that's on a totally different scale.

            • Copying millions of them could be.

              • by Flammon (4726)

                No. Copying will never be a threat to society. It could be a threat to the profit of the investors though but that is still up for debate.

          • Yeah, potentially dangerous actions like aggressive driving are just fines (and maybe loss of license). Sometimes just Warnings. A prison sentence for account sharing is insane. If the person is using it to actually pirate shows (copying them to DVD and reselling them; the *real* definition of media piracy), then they should get prison time for that one, not this one (should still be a fine, and not a [value of TV watched times ten thousand] style of fine either).

            Getting it from bittorrent has a far smaller sentence, and is far harder to prosecute. (Not to mention that spending a year in jail would ruin the entire life of a normal law-abiding citizen. Goodby career, goodby family, goodby prospects of getting a job at anyplace more demanding than mcdonalds.)

            And flat-out stealing it from a store would carry even less of a sentence.

          • Right there in the summary:
            misdemeanor with a maximum one-year prison sentence
            I feel like we had an article not too long ago about how retarded it was to look at maximum sentences, and then cry about how unfair said sentence is for the average instance of that crime. Yea, well, that may be because its not the average sentence.

            Perhaps the maximum is there in case someone turns it into a commercial operation. But on the face of it this looks like an utter non-issue.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          For punishment that fits the crime: Anyone convicted of this type of stealing should be sentenced to watch TV for as many hours as they stole watching movies.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        if one can be watching at the time, who cares.
        that's how spotify does it. you listen on another device and the others stop. and that's how it should be.

        what's next, using kinect to verify that it's you and you have less than 5 people watching the screen at a time?

      • by curunir (98273) *

        I would have a lot more sympathy for companies like HBO if they made these services available to everyone. But, instead, you need to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per year on separate TV service from one of a few blessed providers. If HBO had a ~$10/mo plan that gave access to HBO:Go only, I'd be right there with you condemning people for sharing accounts. But as long as they're using the new online services to prop up the entrenched satellite/cable services and make the service unavailable t

    • by captainpanic (1173915) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:13AM (#43970507)

      I tried to turn myself in at the local police station. I told the officer there that I had borrowed a book from someone else. I had not paid for it. My friend has also read it. So, that's three people, in three different households, that have all read this book for the price of one!

      The officer threatened to give me a fine for wasting his time, then sent me home.

      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:04AM (#43971155)

        The officer threatened to give me a fine for wasting his time

        That's because it was obvious to him that you'd been already booked.

      • by Ash Vince (602485) *

        I tried to turn myself in at the local police station. I told the officer there that I had borrowed a book from someone else. I had not paid for it. My friend has also read it. So, that's three people, in three different households, that have all read this book for the price of one!

        The officer threatened to give me a fine for wasting his time, then sent me home.

        The difference with a book is that when you bought it there was not a long set of terms and conditions of server for you to read and agree to as part of the purchase. With HBO / Netflix / Whatever there is so you have the choice of agreeing to them, or walking away from the deal and not buying the service. Wanting some third option of paying for the service then refusing to honour your part of the deal is simply not on the table. You might say it should be, but our democratically elected government does no

    • by nbauman (624611)

      You say freeloader, I say lucky ducky.

    • Even though you were going for the funny, you bring up an important point. Most states already have laws covering theft of services. The problem isn't about how this can be illegal, but the fact that it's already illegal, so the DMCA and CFAA shouldn't come into it at all.
    • by TheCarp (96830)

      Not only that....but a really crafty prosecutor would realize that the person giving out the password intended for this to happen and colluded to make it happen, meaning.... its time for conspiracy charges!

  • dumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bloodhawk (813939) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @02:17AM (#43970295)
    Stupid arse obnoxious overkill laws... But definitely theft of service, just the punishment is hardly fitting for the crime, if that is how they are prosecuted.
    • Its a maximum sentence, and this is all hypothetical, so Im not really clear how you can judge whether its overkill. Maximums are there to prevent "overkill laws"; it doesnt mean that 95% of the cases under that law will ever see the maximum sentence, regardless of what the prosecution says.

  • by overmoderated (2703703) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @02:18AM (#43970297)
    They didn't steal accounts from each other. They shared. What is this world coming to? A place for fascist corporations and governments who clearly support them.
    • idea. you and whatever other person you wish to share account with start a limmited liability company that signs up for account as "employees" of said company you get access to their netflix/hulu/hbo go account. if sued the limited libabillity company goes under and nothing happens to you. use the corporate contorted legal system to your own advantage

      • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:39AM (#43970603)

        if sued the limited libabillity company goes under and nothing happens to you. use the corporate contorted legal system to your own advantage

        Why would they sue the company? The company has a paid account. They'd sue you, personally, the individual using their service who does not have an account.

        But even so, it raises some interesting points:

        Can a corporation have a netflix account?
        If not, why not? Is that discriminatory? After all, "Corporations are people too my frienda".

        If they can have an account who is allowed to stream content on their behalf, employees? shareholders? officers?

        Maybe I should incoporate for steam. Now the account holder (the corporation) never dies, and presumably my wife can play my games without violating their EULA; solves at least one of the larger gripes I have with Steam...

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          If not, why not? Is that discriminatory? After all, "Corporations are people too my frienda".

          "A corporation is people" like "Soylent Green is people": it's composed of people who retain their rights even if they voluntarily assemble. A corporation obviously isn't identical to people, which is why they get taxed and treated very differently.

          Furthermore, regardless of what they are, you can discriminate against anybody you want, except the few classes that are protected by law. Don't like redheads? Don't hire

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Sorry, but only the elite are allowed to take advantage of the corporate controted legal system.

    • by XopherMV (575514) *

      They didn't steal accounts from each other. They shared. What is this world coming to? A place for fascist corporations and governments who clearly support them.

      Try going to a buffet restaurant and using the "it's only sharing" argument. It won't work. Buffet restaurants aren't "fascist" for not allowing you to feed all your friends for the price of one person.

      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:12AM (#43971199)
        Do you have a food replicator? If yes, your analogy would actually make sense.
        • bandwidth seems to be a physical limitation. netflix can only push so many electrons in a given hour.
        • by Ash Vince (602485) *

          Do you have a food replicator? If yes, your analogy would actually make sense.

          Even with your amazing star trek style replicator it would still take energy. The real issue here though is that the original copy took hundreds of millions of dollars to produce, even if each subsequent copy takes less than 0.01 of a cent. They have to use the profit made from selling copies with are cheap to create to cover the cost of the original.

          Netflix must have to pay a fortune to the studios for their licence to resell their content. That deal may also include a small amount extra per user they have

      • They didn't steal accounts from each other. They shared. What is this world coming to? A place for fascist corporations and governments who clearly support them.

        Try going to a buffet restaurant and using the "it's only sharing" argument. It won't work. Buffet restaurants aren't "fascist" for not allowing you to feed all your friends for the price of one person.

        But the buffet just kicks you out if you cheat. They don't try to send you to jail for a year.

        But of course HBO doesn't want to disconnect even their cheating customers. That would be killing their own revenue stream. So instead they can scare people with this scary "1 year imprisonment" to convince people not to cheat the service. Its a hell of a lot easier than building in real security.

        • by XopherMV (575514) *
          A restaurant could kick you out. Or, they could call the cops. The police do take these actions seriously. You could get charged with theft. And you could spend time in jail. That's happened to people I've known. And, it's harmed their lives. Try getting any serious job with a theft conviction on your record.
    • How is this either bypassing or using without authorization? Definitely *not* bypassing, because a valid user ID/password was used to access the material, with the permission of the subscriber. Without authorization -- a bit trickier, but the user received the access credentials from the subscriber, who cannot simultaneously watch, right? Technically, this would be a violation of the terms of service (assuming, and I'm positive they do, the terms say something like "no sharing of login credentials").

      N
    • We whine and complain about the RIAA and MPAA suing people in bulk for sharing files on bit torrent. Our reasoning is that the record companies cheat the artists out of legitimate revenue and then they add on a new litigation-based business model so they can extract more revenue from people who may or may not have violated copyright. We justify some copyright violation as civil disobedience, because the media companies are criminals (in an ethical sense). There's a lot of truth and a lot of bullshit in t

    • I know! I think they should set a "maximum sentence" on the law so that it cant be abused!

      But this is stealing under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which makes it a misdemeanor with a maximum one-year prison sentence

      Oh, nevermind.

  • Sarcasm (Score:5, Funny)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @02:22AM (#43970305) Homepage Journal

    Fortunately our US Attorneys are well-known for their common sense and restraint, and when they *do* go overboard, they get fired and disbarred like Carmen Ortiz.

  • A choice to make (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tftp (111690) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @02:29AM (#43970339) Homepage

    If you are facing the choice to either sit down in front of the TV or to go in the street and kick the living dayligths out of an innocent stranger, now you know which one is safer.

  • The Future is Now! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gooman (709147) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @02:35AM (#43970363) Journal

    Welcome to the new world where you are all criminals!
    Now do what we say or we'll lock you away.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:14AM (#43970509)

      When I was growing up, I thought that was how things were behind the iron curtain. Now I realized that the iron curtain was lifted, it merely shifted position so we're all behind the curtain now. . . .

      • by greg1104 (461138)

        In Soviet Russia, HBO shares you!

    • Its almost like noone on slashdot knows what the words "maximum sentence" mean.

      It means that it is a LIMIT on how much you are liable for. Would you prefer it didnt mention a maximum at all?

  • by Eightbitgnosis (1571875) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:00AM (#43970449) Homepage
    Someone had actually been charged with something rather than just some random guy supposing it could happen.
  • Piracy? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mitcheli (894743)
    I read an article on Slashdot last year about The Game of Thrones that stated that it was the number one pirated show on the Internet. Because I am a guy who believes in rewarding good talent and also knowing that GoT was a pretty darn good show, I bought both Seasons 1 and 2 (yes, paid for it!) on iTunes. And I was right, a fantastic show! So when my wife and I finally finished off Season 2 and Season 3 was just starting up, we went to our trusty iTunes to get a subscription for Season 3. Well, sorry folks
    • by petman (619526)
      On the subject of GoT, I think Slashdot should have a poll (or maybe they've already had one on GoT and I missed it?):

      Why do you watch Game of Thrones?
      (a) For the tits
      (b) For the blood
      (c) For the story
      (d) For the CGI
      (e) Game of Thrones? Wuzzat?
    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      Well, sorry folks, it's only available in Australia. And we wonder why people are attempting to steal it? Seriously

      Exactly. I could be convinced to pay $50/month for a streaming on-demand service if it had nearly everything -- to re-iterate, the key factors are:

      (a) ON-DEMAND
      (b) NEARLY EVERYTHING

      Furthermore I propose that the content owners could offer this service at nearly no cost to themselves, by simply indemnifying subscribers from any and all legal and contractual repercussions if they are caught torrenting their content. $50/month in order to never get sued by members of the RIAA and MPAA.. I'll take it.

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      And now you know why this comic was made [theoatmeal.com].

  • I would happily buy the bluray of GoT season 3 today if I could. I can't so i'll find 'other means' to watch it. When I can, I will buy the bluray (just like I bought season 1 and 2).

  • I would be less not ok with this if it were actually possible to purchase HBO Go, which it isn't.

  • Solution (Score:4, Informative)

    by asmkm22 (1902712) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:48AM (#43970627)

    HBO could easily solve this problem by offering their shows for sale/rent online the same day or the day after it's aired on cable. They have no one to blame but themselves when they only provide a single means to watch their programs, and people resort to pirating or sharing credentials. I know I'd be more than happy to pay 2 or 3 bucks for a one-time pass per episode.

    The world is moving forward, and it's up to the entrenched media industries to move with it if they want a piece of the action.

    • by necro81 (917438)

      HBO could easily solve this problem by offering their shows for sale/rent online the same day or the day after it's aired on cable. They have no one to blame but themselves when they only provide a single means to watch their programs, and people resort to pirating or sharing credentials

      I suspect that HBO would be thrilled to offer a standalone streaming service to anyone willing to pay, even absent a cable subscription. They would, I am sure, make a lot of money doing it. However, I also suspect that t

  • by slycer9 (264565) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @05:00AM (#43970875) Journal

    Cable isn't available at my house (not even internet, I have to use a cellular data access point), I don't have a clear view for satellite, there are no FIOS options and you won't let me just subscribe to HBO Go so I can watch from my phone or whatever, give me a legal option and I'll take it.

    Hell, I bought the previous two seasons already, I'd LIKE to buy this one.

    • by Politburo (640618)
      Is it illegal for you to move to civilization?
      • by slycer9 (264565)

        You'd think I was in the boonies, but I'm not.
        Prior to moving in I was told that not only was DSL available but they were upgrading to FIOS.

        It IS technically available here, the issue is that there are no subscriber slots available.
        Cable has never responded to why it's not actually available other than 'it's not sorry'.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @05:33AM (#43971023) Homepage

    Honestly the safest way is to torrent the stuff. These companies are hell bent on hating the consumer, so screw them.

  • Sharing HBO Go Accounts Could Result In Prison

    ...but probably won't.

    Next!

  • As long as the person who owns the service gives you the password then it's not stealing.

When all else fails, read the instructions.

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