HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! Looking for something to read instead? Check out our new Working Futures anthology »
HideTechdirt is off for the long weekend! Looking for something to read instead? Check out our new Working Futures anthology »

Cable Giant Spectrum On Quest To Outlaw 'Insane' Streaming Password Sharing

from the you're-own-worst-enemy dept

For years, streaming video operators like HBO and Netflix have taken a relatively-lax approach to password sharing. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has gone so far as to say he "loves" the practice, and sees it as little more than free advertising. Execs at HBO (at least before the AT&T acquisition) have made similar arguments, arguing that young users in particular that share their parents' password get hooked on a particular product via password sharing, then become full subscribers down the road. In short, they see it as added value for the consumer, and have repeatedly stated it doesn't hurt them.

On the other side of the equation sits Charter CEO Tom Rutledge, one of the highest paid execs in media. He, in contrast, has long complained that he views password sharing as "piracy", and has consistently promised to crack down on the practice. Rutledge and his fellow executives gave a particularly rousing "get off my lawn" lecture at a media event a few years back:

"There’s lots of extra streams, there’s lots of extra passwords, there’s lots of people who could get free service,” Rutledge said at an industry conference this month...“It’s piracy,” Connolly said. “It’s people consuming something they haven’t paid for. The more the practice is viewed with a shrug, the more it creates a dynamic where people believe it’s acceptable. And it’s not."

Except it is acceptable. For one, most of these services include password sharing as part of their business model; they include limits on the number of simultaneous streams that can be running under any one account to prevent sharing from undermining too many new sales. And the companies that have been embracing the practice say they've seen no negative impact from it. Again, it's free advertising and a consumer-friendly practice that's factored into the business model. It's certainly not, as Rutledge has often suggested, synonymous with "piracy."

Undaunted, Rutledge has been trying to build a coalition of industry allies focused on stomping out the nefarious practice of password sharing. And as the company strikes programming deals with partners, it's ensuring that a ban on such sharing is part of the process. One big partner in this initiative is Disney, which is expected to put the kibosh on password sharing when it launches its new Disney+ streaming service this fall. All the while, Charter executives are running around calling the practice of password sharing "insane":

"Ultimately our goal is that we can get an alliance of a large enough group of programmers and operators to protect the value of the content that people produce and the content that we distribute and we pay for,” Chris Winfrey, Charter’s chief financial officer, said last week at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2019 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills.

Winfrey severely criticized programmers that turn a blind eye to the practice of password sharing, claiming such practices are “insane."

“To think that it doesn’t impact the way we get paid, it does,” Winfrey said. “And it conditions the entire marketplace to think that content should be devalued, it should be free, and that’s the way it is and I shouldn’t have to pay for it. It’s our firm belief that we’d be growing and growing significantly [if it wasn’t for password sharing]."

Except it's not "free," for the reasons outline above. And while you might gain some additional revenue by banning password sharing, you might also lose subscribers to companies that actually value making consumers happy. Charter Spectrum is, if you'd forgotten, statistically one of the least liked companies in America for a long list of reasons, from mindlessly jacking up prices to providing some of the worst customer service of any company, in any industry in America (think about that accomplishment for a second). Blaming all of its problems on the fact people occasionally share streaming TV passwords reflects the entitlement mindset that's pretty common in the too big to fail, government-pampered telecom and broadcast sector.

Filed Under: password sharing, streaming, tom rutledge
Companies: charter, hbo, netflix, spectrum


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 6:24am

    I’m always curious what they’re going to do to people who share passwords. Refuse their money? I cancelled a service because I mistyped my password and it wouldn’t let me login for 24 hours for “security reasons.” What is someone going to do with my streaming service other than watch shows with it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 6:36am

      That’s the whole point, though: They will watch content with it — but without having paid for the privilege first. I would not be surprised if, at some point, TVs have cameras installed that will scan whose faces are watching the screen. They’ll report the data to the cable/streaming companies so they can charge extra for anyone who isn’t the subscriber. Stopping password sharing seems like the logical progression on that timeline.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:33am

        Re:

        Spectrum has to do this because they can't get a law passed making us subscribe to their service making us willfully ignorant.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:42am

        Re:

        Its not logic, but greed, meaning you can't have friends over to watch tv?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:04am

          Oh, you could…so long as you want to pay a “non-subscriber service fee” (read: a tax for having them over) that will likely be assessed on an hourly basis.

          Capitalism is about making money, as often as possible and in large amounts. If you think cable and streaming companies wouldn’t do this — or would only do it in some lessened form — you underestimate the greed that drives capitalism.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Rocky, 23 Sep 2019 @ 9:22am

            Re:

            Playing the devils advocate here.

            It may be that pushing the notion that sharing passwords and whatnot is evil, illegal and comparable to piracy, is just a pretext for setting up a situation where they can push for legislation that would allow the streaming companies to tighten the control on the consumer side, ie. only "certified" devices may be used to stream content for example. That way they can "rent" out "streaming boxes", ie a return to the cable box rentals.

            Considering their m.o I wouldn't be surprised at all if the above turns out to be true.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 9:27am

              Re: Re:

              and that would the beginning of the end for them

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 11:34am

              Re: Re:

              I wish the whole "Playing the devils advocate" BS would just die already.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 12:05pm

              Re: Re:

              That's not playing the devil's advocate at all. A "devil's advocate" takes a position that they disagree with, and forms an effective argument supporting that position against another position.

              You just came up with a conspiracy theory that makes that position look even worse than it did originally, which is exactly the opposite of what a devil's advocate would do.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 9:33am

        Re:

        One could use the low tech moderation method of a piece of tape over the camera. The ISP could complain all it wants, while you claim it is a broken camera, one that isn't their property and have no right to repair. Then, of course, until they stop installing HDMI, RGB or other video connectivity ports, one can always use an external device to generate programming, streamed, recorded, or live. Then, you don't connect the TV to the Internet, just the external devices.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 9:53am

          Lawsuits would ensue. The companies would win, either by attrition or because the courts tend to side with corporations when it comes to “piracy”. Low-tech “fixes” would become illegal. Using third-party tools to watch content would become illegal, too.

          If you think it can’t happen or wouldn’t happen, your optimism is admirable. But capitalist greed will do wonders to change your mind.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 10:06am

            Re:

            What could they sue over, at least for now? Reverse class action lawsuits, while fairly worthless for the plaintiffs (so far as settlements and recovery are concerned) still scare the hell out of companies.

            And while regulatory capture has become a thing, I suspect that not just the constituents, but the families of law makers would rise up if someone threatened to take their TV away from them. Then there is the surveillance component. I am not sure how long the Supreme Court will allow that to continue, especially when it comes with the TV they just purchased.

            So, maybe, but I do remain optimistic on the whole, even while our rights are whittled away bit by bit. There is an end, we just can't see it yet. They (companies and the copyright maximalists) will step over the line.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 10:11am

              What could they sue over, at least for now?

              Breach of contract by way of a terms-of-service violation. That’d be my best guess, anyway.

              They (companies and the copyright maximalists) will step over the line.

              Not if they can redefine what the line is so that when they cross over what it used to be, their doing so won’t seem as outrageous.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 10:18am

                Re:

                I forgot one part. Do you have a TV in your bedroom? Do you do some things in there you wouldn't want watched? I think that line is fairly easily defined, but it won't be easy. A few stolen TV to ISP or Cable Company streams of folks in certain positions of authority will put the kibosh on the corporate 'I want' syndrome, that is if handled well.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2019 @ 4:37am

        Re:

        "I would not be surprised if, at some point, TVs have cameras installed that will scan whose faces are watching the screen."

        Microsoft's kinect is a frontrunner there - as so many asked, why does the hardware have firmware installed which enables the machine to guess how many people are viewing the monitor?

        I can see that argument of yours and only state that this is yet one more good reason to simply settle for watching everything on a 27" computer monitor with no cameras included. The current spate of "smart" TV's almost all have far too much patronizing OEM bloatware built right in.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rocky, 23 Sep 2019 @ 6:28am

    To be fair..

    ..if it's explicitly against the TOS to share the password you shouldn't be surprised if you get booted from the service if you do.

    On the other hand, unless they (Spectrum et al) have complete control of the whole distribution chain it's a Quixotic quest to stop the sharing. As many have pointed out, if they behave draconian enough the customers will get fed up with the hassle and move to other companies or they find other ways to consume the media they want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 6:35am

    Not stealing shit

    The Netflix TOS says you can have 1, 2 or 4 streams to different devices. Depending on your plan.

    Obviously users aren't violating the Netflix TOS as long as they stay within those limits. (And Netflix will notice and block you if you go over.)

    So this is all about big media monopolies crying because they want Netflix to change their ways and pay more money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:33am

      Re: Not stealing shit

      "The Netflix TOS says you can have 1, 2 or 4 streams to different devices. Depending on your plan."

      Yes, and you pay more or less for the extra devices. Many people who are paying more are doing so specifically so that they can share with people - i.e. they are paying specifically for those people. Perhaps not as much as each person would pay if forced to pay for their own, but that's making the classic mistake of assuming that every "lost" sale should be a sale at full price. Many would not.

      I also wonder what voodoo they expect Netflix to be able to apply here. If you're paying for 4 devices, it could be because you're sharing with 3 friends. Or, you could be paying for each member of a family who might be a distance away from each other during the average month. The only real way to crack down on that would be to enforce every device connecting from the same IP, and good luck telling people that they can't use their fully paid account when travelling, or that their kids aren't allowed to connect from college, etc.

      As usual, every solution I can think of them suggesting would account for lower sales, not more.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:17am

        Re: Re: Not stealing shit

        OR you might watch 2-4 tvs at the same time like I used to do before I kicked the cable company out. They're joking!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        urza9814, 24 Sep 2019 @ 7:36am

        Re: Re: Not stealing shit

        And all of those costs are going to be based on Netflix's costs for content as negotiated in various deals with content providers. So are companies actually making deals with Netflix where Netflix pays based on the number of accounts who have watched something? Or are they paying based on the number of times a particular item is viewed? Or is it a flat rate fee?

        The only way people sharing passwords is costing the content providers money is if the content providers negotiated a very specific deal which prevents them from being paid for that, when they already know how these services operate.

        I'm thinking this isn't about the money, it's an attempt to make streaming have less of a convenience advantage over cable.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:30am

          Re: Re: Re: Not stealing shit

          My understanding of Netflix contracts is that they pay X amount up front, but then might leverage renewals based on viewing figures. From there it gets very murky, and I think dependent on individual contracts. The makers of Russian Doll won't have been getting the same kind of contract as the makers of Seinfeld, no matter whether the majority of viewers are coming from shared accounts, individuals or families.

          It is possible that there's some financial component being affected here, but either way they aren't going to win any arguments by referring to paying customers as pirates, especially if it's just a case of people sharing. It is more likely that they don't like the already vastly cheaper Netflix service being used in ways they have spent their entire careers blocking.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Phillip (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 6:38am

    Disney+

    Not sure how they would get on board with this, one of the things they're advertising out of the gate is that their plans include 4 streams for much less than netflix

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:01am

      Re: Disney+

      They'll probably tie each stream to one particular machine via DRM.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:14am

        Re: Re: Disney+

        "They'll probably tie each stream to one particular machine via DRM."

        Not right away. They will make sure it's as easy as possible to access when it's launched, they will only start tightening things when they've attained a large enough user base.

        But, then the question remains - how do they ensure that the device being used is actually owned by the account holder and not a friend they let use the service? Most people sharing are sharing with actual friends and family members, not random people.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 10:42am

          Re: Re: Re: Disney+

          They'll do like Charter/Spectrum and require you use their "box" for streaming. That's yet another reason I don't have their streaming service.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 10:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Disney+

            There's no way Disney, with a huge potential subscriber base wanting kids to be watching on phones and tablets, would be able to restrict by that method. Even restricting to a home IP would be a huge disincentive, and say what you want about them, Disney don't make many moves that obviously reject their core customers.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2019 @ 4:42am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Disney+

              "...and say what you want about them, Disney don't make many moves that obviously reject their core customers."

              Unless they can get away with it. The Disney Vault is nothing less than a big kick right in everyone's childhood. And yet they get away with it simply because at the end of the day even if the parents whine about not being able to see the old goldies they grew up with, the kids are the ones who drive the sales.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 6:38am

    He, in contrast, has long complained that he views password sharing as "piracy", and has consistently promised to crack down on the practice.

    Sounds like he's pissed his kids are using his password and won't get their own accounts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:24am

    “It’s piracy,”

    No, it's not, by definition.

    “It’s people consuming something they haven’t paid for."

    Yes. But, consuming something that someone else has paid for with the permission of the person who paid for it is something that's always been acceptable to every industry that's ever existed. Until now, apparently.

    "Winfrey severely criticized programmers that turn a blind eye to the practice of password sharing"

    Programmers have fuck all to do with it. They build a system that applies the licence that the supplier and customer have both agreed to. If you're going to introduce new criteria into the system that was agreed on - for example, applying literal magic to determine whether the second person who's just signed in is the account holder accessing while away from home (as agreed acceptable by his account licence) or someone he's shared the password with - you should renegotiate the licence and design of the software.

    "it should be free"

    This is where we are, people - paying full price for a product then allowing someone else to use it while you're not using it means that you think everything should be free. Imagine how much more money the power tool market could be if only people would stop expecting to get drill for "free" by boring from neighbours when they need it!

    I wonder how much more legally and morally acceptable activity they will feel the need to attack until they're happy (answer: all of it).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:39am

      Re:

      “It’s piracy,”
      No, it's not, by definition.

      That depends what you mean. It's not armed robbery on the high seas, but it is something the copyright holders dislike—which is exactly what they repurposed the word "piracy" to mean. If we're going to accept that as a reasonable word to use for copying cultural works (which even the Techdirt authors, who should know better, do), why quibble over minor details?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 9:37am

        Re: Re:

        No dictionary in the world defines "piracy" as "whatever the media companies dislike this week". There isn't even any copying happening when copyrighted works are accessed without payment or permission, the proper definition of piracy in this context. Particularly not in streaming.

        If I pay Netflix for 4 concurrent streams and there are only 2 of us in the house plus a kid off in college then we clearly intend for one of those streams to be used by the kid in college. It's paid for. It's not "piracy" by any definition. We're even paying for an extra stream we never use.

        There's just no valid position in this debate to advocate the devil.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 10:37am

          Re: Re: Re:

          No dictionary in the world defines "piracy" as "whatever the media companies dislike this week".

          Sure, and 50 years ago, no dictionary used that word to refer to copying. They keep pushing the boundaries; if we accept it without pushing back, their definition will end up in the dictionary.

          There isn't even any copying happening when copyrighted works are accessed without payment or permission, the proper definition of piracy in this context. Particularly not in streaming.

          Of course copying is happening. The data didn't move from the server onto your device. Streaming is just downloading and deleting.

          If I pay Netflix for 4 concurrent streams and there are only 2 of us in the house plus a kid off in college then we clearly intend for one of those streams to be used by the kid in college. It's paid for. It's not "piracy" by any definition.

          How does "college" or "family" enter into it? That's your subjective definition of what's OK (which I'm fine with BTW), not anything Netflix says AFAIK. If you're referencing dictionaries, I doubt you'll find those conditions listed. Nor do I expect copyright law to list those as exceptions (maybe via fair-use case law).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Kal Zekdor (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 12:58pm

      Re:

      "Programmers have fuck all to do with it."

      He's not talking about computer programmers. He's referring to content publishers/distributors, i.e. those that manage programming.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 1:34am

        Re: Re:

        Well, that's even dumber, then. What do those people have to do with how licences are enforced?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Sep 2019 @ 4:46am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Well, that's even dumber, then. What do those people have to do with how licences are enforced?"

          You need to ask?

          "With netflix and HBO not giving a shit about how many access a sucscription HOW THE FUCK am I going to be able to get every family pay four times for MY channels???"

          No wonder he's pissed. The competition is undercutting his intended business model by NOT screwing their customer base as hard as they could have...and that, in a nutshell, defines how the average copyright cultist thinks.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 2:05pm

      Re:

      Just waiting for Home Depot to add a TOS to their lawnmowers: "Can only be operated within the boundaries of the property at (fill in the blank: 123 Park Street.) May not be lent, rented, sold, or operated for commercial gain. If your 12-year-old wants a summer job, he must purchase a mower with commercial license."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Damien, 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:30am

    The part that ticks me off the most about this is that I explicitly pay for streaming services based on the number of concurrent streams I pay for. As long my account is only logging in on that many devices, which can be and is controlled on the platform level at log-in, the issue has absolutely nothing to do with my ISP. I have Spectrum as the only broadband ISP in my area. Last I checked, they aren't co-parties to my Pandora, Prime, or Netflix account and can keep their nose out of contracts that don't concern them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:43am

      Re:

      And that's why Imaginary Property is theft. The copyright "owners" can decide that you aren't using it right and cut you off - even if you paid for it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:45am

      Re:

      All those ceo,s go out to lunch together! Keeping their noses in your contracts is what they do. Somebody has to feed the bulldog!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:31am

      Re:

      Last I checked, they aren't co-parties to my Pandora, Prime, or Netflix account and can keep their nose out of contracts that don't concern them.

      From the linked article:

      Walt Disney is the only programmer to sign on thus far, agreeing to Charter’s piracy mitigation strategies for its Disney+ service in return for a renewed contract to distribute Disney programming on Spectrum cable systems.

      I wonder if there's a tortious interference case in there somewhere? Charter is attempting to adversely and intentionally affect the contract between the streaming providers and their customers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    CSMcDonald (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:43am

    Gotta love Spectrum

    I remember when the locals in my area were all overjoyed that our local cable company (with good local based tech support and pretty good customer service) was bought by Spectrum and how this was going to make things soooo much better.

    Haven't heard them praising it much since they took over and ruined support and service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:45am

    "the issue has absolutely nothing to do with my ISP"

    The ISP side? No. But, you miss the point of this kind of whining.

    Spectrum also provide cable and content services as well as ISP services. They imagine that if people weren't using shared Netflix accounts, then people would pay for their own content. Then, many of those people would also pay for cable services, meaning Spectrum. But, because they "freeload" off others' Netflix accounts, Spectrum are unable to sell their own premium content services.

    It's utter nonsense, but there it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:49am

      Re:

      Next they'll be suing EVERYONE who isn't their customer because of lost profits. Someone has to rein in these runaway corporations who have totally lost their collective minds.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        teka, 23 Sep 2019 @ 10:17am

        Re: Re:

        Them darn millennials are spending all their money on avocado toast instead of cable! illegal! illeeeeeeegal!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 11:28am

        Re: Re:

        Ceo to company lawyer:
        at$t has a bigger yacht.

        lawyer to ceo:
        ok, we'll get a law passed against these stream sharers.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Damien, 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:47am

      Re:

      ""the issue has absolutely nothing to do with my ISP"

      The ISP side? No. But, you miss the point of this kind of whining."

      No, I'm not missing anything. At the end of the day I have a contract and ToS with them as an ISP customer that dictates the terms I connect to the internet with, and another contract and ToS with my streaming providers that dictates and and when I can connect to their service.

      All this whining about "it should be illegal" shows is that Spectrum desires to be able to re-write the terms of contracts they are not a party to. Bully for them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      urza9814, 24 Sep 2019 @ 7:49am

      Re:

      YUP! As I posted above, the "they aren't paying for it" argument is utter nonsense. The content providers are getting paid however their contract with the streaming provider says they'll get paid. If they negotiate to get paid for every stream, they get paid for every stream, and shared passwords don't matter. If they negotiate a flat rate, they get paid a flat rate, and shared passwords don't matter. The only way it would affect their profits is if they've specifically accepted a contract where they get paid per account while knowing that those accounts can be shared. So either it's not a problem that actually exists, or it's a problem that they created by themselves.

      They keep saying it's about the money and about people streaming for "free", but it seems pretty clear that this can't be the real issue. It's about control, and it's about trying to get people off of competing streaming platforms. They know shared passwords are free advertising, and that's exactly what they want to avoid, because it's advertising for Netflix not for Spectrum.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 7:52am

    Is this an attempt to blame piracy for a shrinking subscriber base?

    Also, has he considered if students can't share their parents passwords, they will find alternative sources of entertainment, and never become future subscribers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      urza9814, 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:00am

      Re:

      "Also, has he considered if students can't share their parents passwords, they will find alternative sources of entertainment, and never become future subscribers."

      My guess is he's hoping the alternative sources of entertainment will be cable, since Charter is a cable company. My former university, PSU, provides cable connections in every dorm room, free for all students, and apparently that now includes online streaming through the campus wifi as well. There's also options to upgrade with premium packages. So if the students can't stream, maybe they'll just use the cable line that's already set up and stay hooked on cable for a few extra years.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Sep 2019 @ 9:06am

        Re: Re:

        Or they take a more active approach to entertainment, and become involved with YouTube. These day, a smart phone is all you need to produce and post your own videos.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:06am

    The only thing insane is Charter

    All the while, Charter executives are running around calling the practice of password sharing "insane"

    And then they wonder why I refuse to buy their shitty streaming service. I only have their internet service because it's my only choice here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    aerinai (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:15am

    Ways to combat password sharing without being a dick

    1) Limit number of simultaneous streams (tier service for more $$$ - aka Netflix)
    2) Limit physical number of devices or computers that can be active at any given time - (I had seen this somewhere but I forgot)
    3) Deactivate devices after x months and have the user required to put in an e-mailed 2FA code (HBO does this to us every few months)

    These are things that can 'urge' people to buy their own account without taking a hard line and looking like a jerk. It cracks down on 'rampant' abuse by making the buyer only want to share with a few people as to not be inconvenienced themselves.

    The nerds have already solved this one... Legacy CEO blowhards are just too lazy to implement these pretty simple features and would rather litigate the hell out of their customers... can't see that one backfiring at all...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 11:36am

      Re: Ways to combat password sharing without being a dick

      Why does it need to be "combated"? The companies whose services are involved in the sharing have already stated they don't care.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:38am

    a Company provide,s a Good service, the company gets paid extra if someone
    has a 2 device or a 4 device plan, this is free advertising ,If a friend or a relation use,s the service .
    Some american companys are not used to real competition ,
    heres the trick, provide a good service at a fair price and you,ll get more
    customers .
    Instead of trying to make up more rules to limit competition ,
    Any way this is not the time to make rule,s ,
    in the next year there will be a host of new streaming service,s ,
    from disney and other companys,
    Let the consumer pick the winners ,
    like in the phone market place ,
    every month users pick the phone they want,
    Backing from a billion dollar company or special offers did not help windows phone survive in the market place .
    in the market place .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:48am

    One more reason

    Here we see one more reason people will cut the cord. Hey, Tom Rutlidge...snip!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 9:40am

      Re: One more reason

      Cable service isn't really the focus here. This is about streaming which is the goal when cutting the [cable] cord -- trading scheduled garbage content at too high a price for content-on-demand at a self-governed price.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        urza9814, 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:11am

        Re: Re: One more reason

        I kinda don't see how the focus could be anything BUT cable service.

        It certainly can't be about getting paid for streams -- all they have to do is negotiate their Netflix contract so they get paid per view. If for some reason they agreed to be paid per account instead of paid per stream, paid per device, or paid a flat rate...and they did that on a service where they KNOW accounts are regularly shared...then they created the problem intentionally. Probably just so they could push this "solution".

        But if they can make streaming less convenient, maybe they can push a few people back to cable. College students who were sharing their parents' passwords might instead use the free campus cable connections, and the universities will keep paying for those rather than seeing the increase in streaming as a reason to cut those costs. Or people who have cable already, but still occasionally use a friend's Netflix for movies might decide to get a cable movie package or use their video on demand instead. Shared accounts are free advertising -- for the competition. And they want to leverage one arm of their corporation (content production) in order to protect another (cable services) by reducing the free advertising for their competition (Netflix).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jason, 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:50am

    Charter/Spectrum can whine about how people use the service they're paying for when they stop charging a $13.50 "broadcast TV fee" every month for channels I watch for free with my antenna.

    (*The whining would still be total BS, of course. But there would be a lot fewer traumatic eye-rolling injuries among the public.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Sep 2019 @ 8:52am

    "“It’s people consuming something they haven’t paid for. The more the practice is viewed with a shrug, the more it creates a dynamic where people believe it’s acceptable. And it’s not."

    This M-F wouldn't give someone a glass of water.

    He should quit consuming the air he is breathing and not paying for!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 9:19am

    If you can't joinyly own or share it, yhen it isn't real property.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 9:51am

    So, a twofer is devaluing a product now? Got it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 10:31am

    'Since you aren't panicking I'll do it for you!'

    Gotta love how while he's losing his mind over it the companies in question are perfectly fine with the practice, almost as though they know something he doesn't or his 'it's piracy' fearmongering is dishonest cover for something else like overwhelming greed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 11:10am

    Adverts..

    Old days...
    TV, Newspapers, Magazines, Comics...And allot of others USED to make the money they needed by Adverts.. The Programming was the Carrot, to get you to watch.
    THEN the Adverts became the Magazine and newspaper, and the Articles were second..
    Still Tons of magazines, that are 90% Adverts, and Comics werent much better.

    And even Internet sites are using the 3rd party connections to get your data, Which most of us Hate..
    Iv suggested to many sites to BECOME the Avert agency for their OWN sites...and 90% of the blockers would disappear. Because of the 1 major factor. The creator(not the advert agency) inserts a Tag in the Data so that HE/They/It can get paid for a Great advert. They can also insert or read your Internet DATA, if they wanted. And even Some adverts AUTO CLICK, and open sites just to get the money from Click-thru..

    If My Phone has an App I like, I dont mind 1 Popup advert when I open it, its not so bad...but Start taking a picture, and an ADVERT POPS UP...that App is GONE. and I think the rest of you, understand that.

    NOW if you really want, you can Go and get the old programs, and ...
    No graphics,, sign in to every site, or run anon, very easily...but you wont be allowed in allot of places because they will lock you out if they dont have your Data...OR cant show you graphics..

    Good luck folks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rico R. (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 11:29am

    Hollywood’s Wishlist

    • No password sharing
    • No using VPNs to bypass georestrictions
    • No circumventing DRM
    • Every studio each has their own streaming service with their own exclusive content
    • Absolutely no piracy!

    With this list, every Hollywood executive must think everyone has the same salary as them, and therefore, everyone can afford paying for every little piece of content they consume. Not only is this not true and completely unrealistic, data shows that #1-4 on the list only pushes people to piracy, and without piracy, they wouldn’t be consuming the content at all. Some Techdirt troll will probably attack me/them/everyone else who agrees with me that this is being sympathetic to pirates, when it’s simple supply and demand and other simple economic principles.

    And what’s worse, stories like this make me want to leave Spectrum and take my business elsewhere, but thanks to Cable, ISP, and telecom monopolies, there is no elsewhere for me to take it. I would have to pay about the same price (or even more) for Cable TV alternatives, and I have essentially 0 options for an alternate ISP. (cue South Park Cable Company scene)

    Thanks to Techdirt’s report on this story, my shred of respect I had for Spectrum just got even smaller!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bob, 23 Sep 2019 @ 12:54pm

      Re: Hollywood’s Wishlist

      Someone still respects spectrum?

      Whaa...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Rico R. (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 1:53pm

        Re: Re: Hollywood’s Wishlist

        Thanks to Techdirt’s report on this story, my shred of respect I had for Spectrum just got even smaller!

        I said "shred of respect" for a reason. It was already pretty low. It's not that I was singing Spectrum's praises until this story. They've skyrocketed prices, and our price is about to go up as well. I can't say that I've had as many tech support/customer service issues as others have complained about, but that doesn't mean that those complaints aren't valid. And of course, Spectrum says they "support" net neutrality, when it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that they're against it. So, overall, there are some pros and cons to Spectrum, but the cons (especially here) definitely outweigh the pros.

        (And to be perfectly clear, we had Charter in my area, so I never had to deal with Time Warner Cable's shenanigans until after the merger.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          bob, 23 Sep 2019 @ 4:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Hollywood’s Wishlist

          A shred is still greater than zero.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ECA (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 11:27am

          Re: Re: Re: Hollywood’s Wishlist

          I live int he country, and Iv setup 5 Antenna systems for people.
          20 Channels..and most of fairly content. And now can walk away from TV, when they want to.
          Any Metro area should have TONS of channels.. Iv looked up a friend in Cali, and he has 3 locations he can point at, and over 60 to select from.
          Allot have gone independent, and Broadcast Lots of the older stuff. But for about $100 its not to bad, or even hard(most times).
          If you need info, Ask.. unlesss you got a home that over 2 Stories it shouldnt be hard.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dan8mx (profile), 23 Sep 2019 @ 5:05pm

    Beer

    When Tom Rutledge throws a party, I'll bet guests aren't allowed to take a beer from the fridge because "it’s people consuming something they haven’t paid for"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Syedur (profile), 24 Sep 2019 @ 8:32am

    Professional Camera For Photographers

    Save your time & money on global product sourcing. Choose from the world's largest supplier base and enjoy full order protection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2019 @ 1:30pm

    if piracy = "getting something you didn't pay for"

    If we're going to say that piracy is simply the act of getting something you didn't pay for, then I haven't met a person that's not a pirate...

    We're all pirates!

    You didn't 'pay' for that air you're breathing, now did you? ... or those random thoughts? or what about those feeling's you're having after reading this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    thinkforyourselves (profile), 29 Sep 2019 @ 8:10pm

    Really?

    Oh, for the love of God...

    This is one of those areas where being a bully won't work, so why try and do it this way? If you think in terms of "making contracts ban the practice" were going to stop people from obtaining things that are just a click away, you're really not qualified to be a CEO. But that's not the real plan, is it?

    It's not stealing regardless of what those who purchased the DMCA want to preach. If I buy a printed book, is it illegal when I finish it to give it to a friend? If it were, we'd all be felons today. Give it a fucking rest.

    Of course, since I see beyond the "official message" I have a feeling this is just typical manipulation. I can see bandwidth limits coming to cash in on the hardcore "thieves"... It's not that it's really considered stealing, it's to corral people into downloading content so only one group profits from it.

    If you share a Netflix password they expected you to share, then Netflix makes money. If you put bandwidth tiers in place and force people into obtaining content off the internet, the ISP makes the money. This from a CEO who's already publicly stated video isn't his focus anyhow...

    Suddenly, those complaining about people "stealing" would be comfortable profiting from "stealing" the role of content providers from the actual content providers.

    Think for yourselves, people... This isn't about morals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.