Tennessee’s Web Entertainment Theft Bill

On June 1, 2011, Tennessee lawmakers passed the country’s first bill that would make it illegal to use another person’s log-in information for online entertainment services – such as Netflix, Rhapsody, etc. Awaiting the governor’s signature, this bill is not yet law.

The bill was passed to prosecute hackers and thieves who sell log-in information in large quantities, but will also extend to individuals who use their friends’ log-in information with or without permission. Lawmakers note, however, that family members living within the same household will not be affected by the new law.

Under the new law, online entertainment providers who believe that such theft is taking place can go directly to the authorities for prosecution. The law will carry a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine for stealing entertainment valued at $500 or less; and stolen entertainment valued at over $500 will be considered a felony and will carry a harsher punishment.

Tennessee, the country’s music capital, plays home to many recording industry movers-and-shakers; most of whom generate a great deal of tax revenue. Backed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), it’s not yet known if other states will follow Tennessee’s lead.

Whether or not the governor signs the bill into law, this legislation comes at no surprise. With the entertainment industry suffering astronomical losses due to illegal online use, the bill is seemingly the logical next step.

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