New Tennessee Law Criminalizes Web Entertainment Theft

The reign of terror launched by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against individuals who allegedly violated the Copyright Act lasted only five years, and ended up being more of an expensive “you-better-not-copy” PR campaign than a real enforcement strategy.

Now, with the encouragement of RIAA, the State of Tennessee has picked up the banner and extended its own theft of cable law to include prohibiting the sharing of subscription passwords to entertainment streamers such at Netflix and Rhapsody.

Now, if copying (presumably broad-scale) is detected in Tennessee, the aggrieved party can bring charges to state authorities, and the cost of prosecution is borne by the public sector.

If figures are to be believed, this may be a financial burden the public sector in Tennessee will not be willing to fund for very long without seeing successes. If convicted under the new law, someone who watched or listened to $500 or less of entertainment would be sentenced to a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500. That fine amount was essentially the mode settlement amount in the RIAA lawsuits, and that resulted in a failed strategy.

Obviously, RIAA and their Indie followers-on hope this state enforcement activity works and is followed closely by other states. If Tennessee can work out the economics, that might happen, but don't count on it; not every state has a Nashville, so not every state has the same incentive to proceed on this basis.