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Is sharing a log-in a criminal act?

Tennessee's governor has signed a bill that makes sharing a username and password illegal between its borders, according to the Associated Press.

Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill that would make sharing log-in information, including usernames and passwords, illegal within the state's borders, the Associated Press reports.

According to the news service, the legislation easily passed Tennessee's state legislature and Gov. Bill Haslam has signed the bill into law. The legislation, which is an expansion upon theft laws that prosecute people for stealing cable service or not paying for a meal at a restaurant, will take effect July 1, the AP reported today.

Once the law takes effect, those who share log-in information with friends or even family from any subscription service, including Netflix and Rhapsody, could be charged with theft.

Infringers who are deemed to have stolen up to $500 entertainment content, including movies or music, could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Imprisonment terms and fines go up for those who steal more than $500 worth of content.

Although the law targets those who steal log-in information of unsuspecting people for access to content, it still has the potential to apply to families with a single account for an entertainment service, such as Netflix.

Under Tennessee's law, only service providers can press charges against allegedly infringing customers.

Netflix itself has already started considering ways to combat username-sharing. In April, Netflix posted a question-and-answer page to its investors site, discussing plans for encouraging families to pay for multiple plans, rather than consume content from a single account.