From now on, sharing a login in the state is a crime, under the Web Entertainment Theft bill.
The lawmakers say the rule wouldn’t be used to prosecute people watching movies on a spouse’s account. But students passing user names and passwords to all their friends, for example, will now be breaking the law.
The measure is actually an add-on to an existing law covering such crimes as leaving a restaurant without paying. It covers ‘entertainment subscription services’, which means that music downloads through the likes of Rhapsody would also be included.
It imposes a fine of up to $2,500 plus a year in jail for anyone found guilty of ‘stealing’ a single movie; once the value of the ‘theft’ tops $500, the penalty increases.
The move comes as three senators attempt to introduce a bill criminalising unauthorized streaming.
“On behalf of a music community that has lost thousands of jobs to piracy, we are frustratingly familiar with the damaging impact of online theft,” says Mitch Glazier, executive VP for public policy and indistry relations for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
“As the music industry continues its transition from selling CDs to providing fans convenient access to a breadth of legal music online, laws that provide effective enforcement against new and developing forms of content theft are essential to the health of our business.”