Illustration shows Netflix logo
Sharing your Netxflix password might be a crime in the UK Reuters

Millions of people living in the UK may be violating the law by giving out their passwords for services like Amazon Prime Video, Disney +, and Netflix, according to the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

The UK IPO, which published the issued guidance on December 19, in a joint campaign with Meta, the Facebook and Instagram owner, stated that sharing passwords violates copyright laws.

In addition, the UK IPO wrote on its website, "Piracy is a major issue for the entertainment and creative industries." Further stating "Pasting internet images into your social media without permission or accessing films, TV series, or live sports events through Kodi boxes, hacked fire sticks, or apps without paying a subscription is an infringement of copyright, and you may be committing a crime."

Netflix has about 222 million households worldwide as subscribers, and it estimates that over 100 million households issue its services freely via password sharing, including as many as 4 million subscribers in the UK, which it has accepted long enough, despite breaching its terms and conditions. Based on research done by a research firm, Digital I, a quarter of UK Netflix subscribers share passwords.

During Netflix's early days in the UK, it encouraged users to share passwords. However, this affected the growth of the streaming platform. To counter the problem, Netflix devised different price tiers to allow individuals to buy their accounts.

The £108 billion company announced its plans to clamp down on the practice by presenting to subscribers the choice to include additional "sub-accounts" or "extra members" for a little extra monthly fee. Netflix does offer shared accounts with different profiles, but they are only valid for people living under the same roof.

Meanwhile, this plan that Netflix is establishing as one of the many moves to improve income revenue is expected to be introduced to Britain next year.

The IPO said sharing passwords was a criminal offence, and those involved could hypothetically face prosecution.

An IPO spokesperson said, "There is a range of provisions in criminal and civil law which may be applicable in the case of password sharing where the intent is to allow users to access copyright-protected works without payment.

"These provisions may include breach of contractual terms, fraud, or secondary copyright infringement, depending on the circumstances. Where these provisions are provided in civil law, it would be up to the service provider to take action through the court if required."