Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law a groundbreaking bill that makes it a crime to use a friend's login, even with permission, to listen to songs or watch movies from services such as Netflix or Rhapsody. The Tennessee measure was pushed by recording industry officials to try to stop the loss of billions of dollars to illegal music sharing. Legislation was aimed at hackers and thieves who sell passwords in bulk, but its sponsors acknowledge it could be employed against people who use a friend's or relative's subscription.
Under the new law, which takes effect July 1, download services that believe they are getting ripped off can go to law enforcement authorities and press charges. Stealing $500 or less of entertainment would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Theft with a higher price tag would be a felony, with heavier penalties. While those who share their subscriptions with a spouse or other family members under the same roof almost certainly have nothing to fear, blatant offenders—say, college students who give their logins to everyone on their dormitory floor—could get in trouble.