>Rant Bait: Sharing Passwords Apparently Makes You a Felon

>Earlier this week, Tennessee signed a new bill into law that will take effect July 1st. While this site normally wouldn’t cover legal news, this one is not only important, but it is beyond ridiculous and is a great example of the idiocy of our government when it comes to technology. This new law expands on old law that made it illegal to steal cable and dine and dash. Starting July 1st, it will be illegal to share your passwords to “entertainment subscription service” sites with anyone. No more sharing Netflix with anyone.

The bill was made specifically to stop pirates who sell user names and passwords in bulk, but the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gerald McCormick even mentioned that it could be used to stop sharing with families and friends. Sharing less than $500 would be a misdemeanor, leading up to 1 year in jail or a $2500 fine, more if you go over $500. Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, signed the bill into law after admitting that he wasn’t familiar with the details of it!

The problem is the wording of the law. What exactly is a “entertainment subscription service”? Here’s a few off the top of my head: Netflix, Rdio, Hulu Plus, Xbox Live, Amazon Instant Video, Audible, magazine subscriptions, newspaper subscriptions, online gaming such as World of Warcraft and Steam, even a gym membership. The list can go on because the law is written with insanely vague terms. Why is the law written so badly? The Record Industry Association of America has a huge presence in Tennessee, the country music capitol. A ton of tax money from the RIAA goes to them. For now, let’s assume that tax money is the only cash Ten. lawmakers get.

This law is so obviously completely written by the scumbags at the RIAA. I’m not advocating the wholesale auctioning of usernames and passwords. I’ve recently gone to paying for all my music and movies myself. But you cannot seriously tell me that I can’t share my Netflix account with my fiancee. We live in the same house. I have Netflix logged in on my TV. Am I supposed to tell her to buy her own subscription to use if I’m not there? I know my niece uses my brother’s Netflix account to get her daily fix of SpongeBob. With the amount she’s been watching, I can assure you that she’ll definitely spend her 3rd and 4th birthday behind bars because she’s not paying the bill.

Both the RIAA and the MPAA (the Motion Picture Association of America) have been run by people who didn’t think that this whole Internet thing would catch on. And then 15 years later they started doing something about it. Yes, they haven’t been making as much money as they used to. That’s because of their history of using DRM to make sure that if I buy a movie on DVD, I can’t rip it to my computer to watch it there or put it on my iPod. Heaven forbid I use the movie I just purchased in the manner of my choosing. Unfortunately, these backwards old men have a ridiculous amount of money. And it’s crap laws like this that show that they put a lot of that money into lobbying.

Molly Wood at CNET says it best. What these people fail to understand is that most people are willing to pay money for these services. The fact is, these idiot industries don’t make the content available. Then they wonder why nobody is buying their stuff. The economy is really bad now. Telling a family that they have to get their own individual “entertainment subscription services” for each member is beyond ridiculous. I encourage you all to write your congressmen and women. Tell them that what Tennessee is doing shameful and if they hope to get reelected that they laugh RIAA and MPAA lobbyists out of their office. I’m posting Rep. McCormick’s contact form below as well. Be intelligent. Don’t just tell him what a jackass he is. Tell him why. And tell him why people who aren’t in the pocket of the recording studios are against such nonsense. Tell it to Bill Haslam, who’s address is below (I’d love to give you his email, but his site’s Contact Us page is down). These people aren’t looking out for us. They are looking out for their own pocket, and it is not acceptable, and we should not just stand idly by.

Rep. Gerald McCormick: http://geraldmccormick.net/contact.htm

Gov. Bill Haslam: 1701 West End Avenue
Suite 300
Nashville, TN 37203

(615) 254-4799

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