Don't panic: The streaming police won't be knocking at your door anytime soon.
We're gonna give you some legal knowledge so hold on to your horses (or if you prefer dogs, legal beagles):
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA):
"The federal anti-hacking statute prohibits unauthorized access to computers and networks and was enacted to expand existing criminal laws to address a growing concern about computer crimes," as told by Wired.
Why does this concern you, you may ask? Well, United States V. Nosal, of course!
The case poses a question "When accessing an account using a shared password, is it an unauthorized access?" And does it violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?
The case's main twist is what the defense brought to the table as a "scenario" to save David Nosal, a former employee at Korn/Ferry. They express, much like what we do on a daily basis with many accounts, is that it was "still okay" to siphon information from the database of his old company by getting a private password from a former co-worker.
Of course, Netflix and HBO Go were both thrown around in court, saying that if he was held accountable, that would also criminalize acts of sharing passwords for ordinary citizens, according to Motherboard on Vice.
Though they argue his former coworker did not have "authorization" to dole out said password by the company Korn/Ferry, the fact of the matter is "without authorization" is described so ambiguously that it equals saying "accessing a protected computer without permission," but not much more than that.
What does this all mean for you - I'm sure you're wondering:
The company Korn/Ferry did not give specific "authorization" from the account holders to share passwords or information, and neither do companies like Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Go.
Motherboard quotes Stephen Reinhardt, "the dissenting judge" in the case, saying “In the everyday situation that should concern us all, a friend or colleague accessing an account with a shared password would most certainly believe—and with good reason—that his access had been ‘authorized’ by the account holder who shared his password with him," but going by the vague technological jargon represented - it's technically illegal to access it, regardless if your friend shared the password with you or not.
Kind of makes that whole binging on House Of Cards, Ink Master, or Game Of Thrones on your best friend's account all the more exciting, doesn't it?
As of right now, unless HBO, Netflix, and Hulu go to court or come up with some crazy way to nix the sharing of passwords, you're safe from any consequences.
Don't worry, those sirens aren't for you outside, we promise.
Amy Cooper is a writer and pop, punk, and rock junkie, and on multiple occasions has been referred to as a “Walking iPod.”