Consumer Reports: Is sharing Netflix password legal?

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Is sharing your password from video streaming services, like Netflix or Hulu Plus, legal? Consumer Reports explains. (KABC)

It seems so easy. Type in your password and have access to countless video streams on a service you pay for, like Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, HBO Go or Watch ESPN. And it seems just as easy to give your log-in to someone else.

A newly released Consumer Reports survey shows that 46 percent of those asked share their passwords with friends or relatives who don't live with them. Is sharing your password illegal?

Many of the terms of agreement seem ambiguous. But the companies don't seem to be cracking down.

"Their business models, however, are evolving. And next year, things could be different. But for the time being, they're interested in creating streaming media addicts," said Glenn Derene of Consumer Reports.

While it technically may be OK to hand out your password, you may be surprised like the Maranos were when the show they wanted to watch was blocked.

"My daughter said, 'Oh, I bet so-and-so is watching.' I'm like 'How would so-and-so be watching?' She said, 'I gave her my password,'" said Barbara Marano.

Netflix, like several others, limits simultaneous viewing. Each subscription plan is different. Netflix is one to four concurrent streams, depending on your plan.

Amazon Prime allows two at a time. HBO Go allows three. Hulu Plus allows only one. Watch ESPN, unlike the others, does not state any limits.

So if you don't want to interrupt your own viewing pleasure, those limits should make you think twice before you give out your password.

As companies such as HBO and Dish Network begin to offer more online-only content, Consumer Reports says they may get more protective of the revenue they get from streaming and a bit more interested in exactly who's watching.

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