Why is it illegal to share your screen via Discord, etc. when watching Netflix – and how is it differentiated from people sitting on your couch next to you to watch alongside you?

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To further explain, the concept is the same, isn’t it? Watching IRL you can have 2, 3, 10 people around one screen. Online, you can do the same thing by sharing your screen through Discord and similar apps, but in that case it is illegal, you can get accounts banned, warned, etc. and is seemingly considered to be piracy. What is the actual difference between the two?

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12 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

The key difference between watching Netflix with friends in person and sharing your screen via Discord comes down to the issue of licensing and distribution rights. When you invite friends over to watch Netflix together, you’re essentially sharing the content within the confines of your own private space. However, when you share your screen via Discord or similar platforms, you’re essentially broadcasting the content to potentially hundreds or thousands of people over the internet which makes the company lose money

Anonymous 0 Comments

physicality and expected privacy

your home is a private place; discord/twitch are not

sharing a movie/cd/other media with people person to person is different from putting 1 cd on a table and then 600 strangers all take that one CD

legally there are some grey areas; so im sure some companies just ban it to avoid potential legal trouble

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s not illegal, but it is against the respective companies policies.

They sell you a license to view the content in specific ways, each service is a bit different but most of the time it’s a household license, or a license to view on personal devices. There are typically conditions that you cannot host viewing parties, etc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

This is mainly due to 2 reasons:

* When people are physically present in your home and watching alongside you, they are typically covered by the same license or agreement that you have with the streaming service. This is similar to watching a DVD or Blu-ray with your buddies in your living room.
* Streaming services differentiate between personal viewing and public sharing. While watching with friends in your home is considered personal viewing, screen sharing over the internet can be seen as a form of public sharing, especially if the audience includes individuals who don’t have their own licenses or subscriptions.

Netflix’s reasoning behind enabling this rule was – streaming/sharing your screen includes showing the content that is owned/distributed by netflix at a cost. They don’t want people to be able to watch/stream this content for free, So when Netflix banned streaming their website, they had done this more for people to not be able to stream in huge, public servers/voice channels or on websites like youtube. And this is why, even if you’re in a small vc of say, 5 people, you still can’t stream netflix via discord legally.

Anonymous 0 Comments

You are allowed to gather 10 people in your home and stream Netflix. But you are not allowed to go stream it at a community park or at a drive-in theater. You’ve been go to the situation where you are broadcasting it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

When you pay for a subscription Netflix grants you a license to the content for yourself and your household. People visiting you and sitting on your couch are included. Those half the world away on YouTube or a Twitch stream are not. So it’s really as simple as “because Netflix said so”.

Anonymous 0 Comments

That is because a different owner’s right is triggered. Owners of IP have specific rights over the material, meaning only they made do certain things with the IP. If someone else does that thing, then they either owe the owner money or are in violation.

One right is broadcasting the IP by telecommunication. That’s what happens on Netflix. Every time a movie is played, Netflix pays a tariff (or they might have a deal with a one-time payment, it’s all negotiable). The law does not care how many people watch on it on the other side. The law only cares if the IP is broadcast or not.

If you share your screen with someone, you are now broadcasting. You are sharing the IP via telecommunication. You are now infringing on an owner’s right.

What does difference does it make? It’s all about money. If the IP owner could charge per person watching, they absolutely would. However, there is no way to quantify that. There is no way for the IP owner or Netflix to know how many people are watching at the other end of the device. As much as they would love to charge more for more viewers, they simply cannot; the law does not allow it. However, they can find out if someone is screensharing. Regardless of how many people are watching, screensharing is an obvious act of infringing on an owner’s right. In such a case, the IP owner can absolutely claim more money.’

Just to give you an example of how people are always trying to test copyright law to get more money, there are a couple of cases where the IP owners were trying to get money from previews of IP. On iTunes for example, you can listen to a preview of the song before buying it. Music artists tried to claim that was a broadcast and that they should get a royalty for that. There was a similar argument for those small snippets that Netflix shows. They wanted a royalty for those as well. Another example is selling games online. They tried to argue that selling a game online was broadcasting the IP to the public *and* making a copy of the game (another separate owner right). They were trying to double dip royalties for a single transaction. Copyright law is all about getting the maximum amount of money wherever you can get it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There’s an inherent difference in scalability. If you are sharing your screen, you could be letting thousands or even millions of people watch the content. Even if you promise not to do that, even if you aren’t even trying to do that (someone watching your stream may rebroadcast it), Netflix isn’t going to trust you. On the other hand, you can only fit so many people in your living room. And for what it’s worth, organizing a moderately-sized in-person screening of a movie (i.e. in some space bigger than your living room) does technically require you to pay licensing fees.

There’s also a difference in detectability. It’s relatively easy to search the big online broadcasting platforms for evidence that someone is restreaming your content. It’s much harder to go door to door on a Friday night taking a headcount. Even if Netflix really would like to charge you for that Stranger Things viewing party, it can’t.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Simply put, a Netflix subscription doesn’t (can’t) limit the number of people you have in your house to watch a movie. By sharing your screen via Discord (or any other medium), you are essentially broadcasting Netflix content outside of your own authorized devices.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It feels like most people aren’t really giving you the differentiation reason. It comes down to what action you are permitted to take. When you stream or watch physical media on a physical player, you are just viewing whatever is on the screen which got there because the media company licensed all of the technology to get it from their server or disk through the media device and onto your TV/monitor. That’s all included in the license. What is not included is any permission to do anything with that image other than watch it, and watch it under certain restrictions. It didn’t grant permission to save the content for any reason using any technique, nor did it say you can re-broadcast the content (which is what happens if you’re sharing your screen). It also didn’t grant you to even use the DVD-TV playing approach to share with, say, a school auditorium — there are provisions in the license that explicitly forbid anything other than at-home viewing or some other very small audience scenarios. They do that because of course they expect you to get a different (“performance”) license, for a lot more money, if you plan to do other stuff with it that generally includes larger audiences or broadcast.

All that said, I don’t think anything in what we’re discussing is “illegal” in the sense of “committing a crime”. Not complying with licensing restrictions I believe is still just a civil violation, and while not legal in a contact sense, isn’t something you can be arrested for. IANAL so check on that (someone else in this thread said DMCA may have made some of this criminal).