Disney+ and Big Cable Team Up to Crack Down on Password Sharing, and Now We're Freaked Out

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Well, folks, I hate to rain on your streaming services parade, but those of us who are hoping to skirt a Disney+ subscription and instead leach off a buddy’s account may run into some trouble.

Disney and Charter Communications on Wednesday announced a distribution agreement for programming that falls under the Disney umbrella, including, the companies said, ESPN+, Hulu, and the forthcoming Disney+ streaming service. An interesting bit of information tucked into in the press release, however, was the claim that both have “also 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,” the release said.

Further speaking to this apparent crackdown on password sharing, Tom Montemagno, executive vice president of programming acquisition for Charter, said in a statement that the partnership “will allow Spectrum to continue delivering to its customers popular Disney content, makes possible future distribution by Spectrum of Disney streaming services, and will begin an important collaborative effort to address the significant issue of piracy mitigation.” (Emphasis ours.)


It’s unclear how Disney and Charter plane to prohibit password sharing and “unauthorized access,” or for that matter whether such a system yet exists. As Ars Technica suggested, however, one method might involve both Disney and Charter tracking user IP addresses and essentially cross-checking that information.


Synamedia, a company that, among its other services, aims to curb credentials-sharing, has claimed that it counts Charter and Disney among its customers. In the same January press release in which both companies were named, Synamedia also noted a newly unveiled “security software that combats the rapid rise in account sharing between friends and families, turning it instead into a new revenue-generating opportunity for operators.”

Neither Charter nor Disney immediately returned a request for comment. However, a spokesperson for Charter told Ars Technica that it didn’t “have details to share at this time.”


Whatever we take away from this news, let it be this: Disney+ is a cop.