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Tenn. targets sharing of Web subscriptions

Associated Press / June 2, 2011

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NASHVILLE — State lawmakers in Tennessee have voted to make it a crime to use a friend’s log-on to listen to songs or watch movies from services such as Netflix or Rhapsody — even with the friend’s permission.

Recording industry officials pushed for the measure to try to stop the loss of billions of dollars to illegal music sharing. It now needs just the governor’s signature to become law.

The legislation is aimed at hackers and thieves who sell passwords in bulk. But sponsors acknowledge it could be used against people who log on with a friend’s or relative’s subscription.

Those who share their subscriptions with a spouse or other family members almost certainly have nothing to fear — but the same can’t be said for blatant offenders, such as college students who give their log-ons to everyone on their dormitory floor.

The bill expands an existing law used to prosecute people who steal cable television or leave restaurants without paying for their meals.