How to Ethically Use Your Ex's Netflix Account

Categories: Advice, Technology

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Here's my situation. My boyfriend and I broke up about six months ago, but we're on good terms. His Netflix information and password are stored in my computer, and occasionally (maybe once a month) I will take advantage of his account and watch a movie on demand. He hasn't said anything about it, but is this unethical? Should I offer to pay him to use his account?

Only if you consider stealing unethical, which I'm sure Netflix does. And so does the state of Tennessee. I can't, in good conscience, advise you to use your ex's account without his permission, but there is a definite grey area when it comes to password sharing. According to Netflix's terms of use, you can have "up to six unique authorized devices activated ... at any given time." Netflix also notes, in all caps, no less: 

"BY SHARING THE NETFLIX SERVICE PASSWORD, THE ACCOUNT OWNER AGREES TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSURING THAT HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS COMPLY WITH THE TERMS OF USE AND SUCH ACCOUNT OWNER SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF THE HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS."

They don't, however, define "household." Do you have to share genetics? What if your family members live in other states? What about a roommate? Or if you're staying at a friend's house out of town?

You should also know that whenever you watch a movie, it'll show up on his account page. So, as long as you don't mind your ex getting a message like, "You recently watched yet another Kate Hudson movie," then you're probably fine. Meaning I'm sure he knows that you're using his password to watch a movie now and again. 

A basic Netflix account costs $8 a month, so your crime carries the moral weight of about two muffins. It's about on par with not recycling an occasional peanut butter jar because that shit is so hard to clean! 

Most people don't mind sharing their account info with a few close friends. As one of mine put it, "It's like offering a slice of the large pizza you just ordered or a beer from your 12-pack." If you're suffering a crisis of conscience, though, just ask your ex whether it's okay. Assuming you truly are on good terms, he'll probably be more than happy to let you watch Ryan Gosling take his shirt off once a month. That said, if he lets you, it also wouldn't hurt to buy him a beer or a burrito once in a while, in order to shift the karmic balance back in your favor. Otherwise, mildly terrible things might happen. You might get hiccups for an hour, or run out of quarters on laundry day. And you'll have only  yourself to blame.

PS: This doesn't really have to do with your question, but Netflix-related quandaries always make me think about the guy who rigged his ex-girlfriend's account so that the only films recommended to her were ones involving betrayal. Isn't that the nerdiest revenge ever?

Social-media mistress Anna Pulley likes to give advice about how to play well with others on the internets. If you have a question about etiquette involving technology, shoot her a question at AskAnnaSF@gmail.com. 

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @ExhibitionistSF or Facebook
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2 comments
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Arthur
Arthur

So many broken links!

Lee
Lee

link to betrayal story is broken for me

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