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Disney will fight account sharers in a way Netflix does not

With the new Disney Plus streaming service on the horizon, the entertainment giant is launching a pre-emptive strike against potential password sharers.

Disney has joined forces with US cable giant Charter in order to target users who might be using friends or family passwords to access Disney owned properties like Hulu, ESPN Plus and the forthcoming Disney Plus.

On an announcement this week (via Wired), the two companies said they have “agreed to work together on piracy mitigation. The two companies will work together to implement business rules and techniques to address such issues as unauthorized access and password sharing.”

That’s bad news for people who have reciprocal arrangements with pals to share the passwords for their various streaming service, a practice Netflix doesn’t appear to have a problem with. Way back in 2016, co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings said Netflix had no plans to hunt down password sharers.

Related: Disney Plus – everything you need to know

“In terms of [password sharing], no plans on making any changes there,” he said in an earnings call. “Password sharing is something you have to learn to live with, because there’s so much legitimate password sharing, like you sharing with your spouse, with your kids …. so there’s no bright line, and we’re doing fine as is.”

The official Netflix terms of service does say accounts are for “personal and non-commercial use only and may not be shared with individuals beyond your household,” but the policy is rarely, if ever, enforced.  More recently, Netflix chief product manager Neil Hunt has said the company is not “obsessed with enforcing compliance with a one-household-per-account constraint.”

Similarly, HBO is less obsessed with catching password sharers in the act. Indeed former CEO Richard Plelper said password sharing is “terrific marketing vehicle for the next generation of viewers” and said it could help create HBO “addicts.”

It’s not clear how Disney plans to enforce the clampdown on password sharing. The common sense approach would be to address those accounts where login details are being used in more than a couple of households, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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