Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is on the record with a comment over at GigaOM that password sharing among family members is not a big deal. I applaud him for his sensibility in recognizing this. I think too many content creators fail to make a distinction between casual sharing amongst members of a household, and uploading to a torrent for millions and millions of people to consume for free. I am delighted to see a big player like Hastings recognize this.
He does concede that multiple users sharing an account is ‘not ideal.’ But he clarifies that what they are seeing is situations such as parents and kids in one house—not sharing amongst casual acquaintances. And for those who really do share with several family members amongst multiple devices, Netflix is planning to introduce a new, more expensive family plan.
In my opinion, this is the right approach, and I would like to see the bookstores get on-board with this. I think that under the ‘Piracy is Bad!’ banner, there is a tendency to over-criminalize behavior that, let’s be honest, most sensible people do all the time and don’t have a problem with.
My stepfather has never bought a book in his life—my mother brings so many into the house that he just waits for one to appear on the coffee table, and when he feels like reading, he grabs whatever book happens to be around and reads it. Why is that different from installing the Kindle app on the Beloved’s tablet and hooking it into my account so that I can buy books on his behalf?
I don’t think it would ever occur to him to be somewhere else with his tablet and load up the Netflix to watch while out and about; 99 percent of the time we use Netflix it’s to watch together, so I don’t see us ever exceeding the two-device limit we currently have.
But someday, if we had kids? Sure, I’d pay a few bucks extra for a family plan if we’d use it. We are reasonable people. But I don’t think we are criminals for sharing media accounts within our house, and I am delighted to see a Person in Charge recognize this.