NASHVILLE (Reuters) - Tennessee, home to the capital of Country Music, passed a law to crack down on the use of someone else's name and password to get online entertainment, drawing praise from the recording industry.
The new law was passed by both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly May 19 and signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on Memorial Day.
The bill was pushed by Nashville's recording industry and adds theft of online entertainment user names and passwords on services such as Rhapsody and Netflix, to existing law.
"Given the significant economic contributions of the music industry to the state (Tennessee), it's important to ensure that the hard work of artists, musicians and labels is protected against emerging ways to steal music," said Mitch Glazier, D.C.-based executive vice president for public policy and industry relations for the Recording Industry Association of America.
It was a closely followed measure in Nashville, the long-time home of the country music industry which increasingly has become the recording center for many major rock acts.
It is not necessarily targeted at college students who share their passwords with other students, but it does not let them off the hook. "It's technically against the law to give your user name and password out to people not in your household," said Stephanie Jarnagin, research analyst for Senate sponsor Jim Tracy, a Republican.
The biggest offenders and targets of the law are those who deal in the black market of passwords, she said.
"What happens is people will hack into the system and steal thousands of user names and passwords and sell them for 50 cents a pop," said Jarnagin.
The penalty remains the same as the prior statute, $500 or less if it is a misdemeanor, and over $500 if it is a felony. The class of the felony and the punishment escalates with the value of the services stolen.
The way Tennessee is targeting this piracy is unique, Glazier said on Wednesday.
"While some states may already include subscription services in the scope of their theft of services laws, this is the first time a state has reviewed its cable theft law on the books in a forward-thinking manner to assure it is updated to address how entertainment is delivered today," he said.
Editing by Greg McCune