updated 12:20 pm EDT, Wed September 7, 2011
Netflix says multiple video streams still OK
Netflix hoped to contain a potentially damaging situation Wednesday with a response to a claim that it was limiting Internet video streams. After it accidentally sent out a policy that would have limited the number of streams depending on the plan, the company in a statement quickly said this cap didn't exist. "No Netflix member is limited to less than two" simultaneous streams, communications VP Steve Swasey said.
Any alerts telling users they had to stop one stream to continue another were part of an "error that we are correcting," the executive said.
The apparent move, spotted by StopTheCap over the weekend, would have come just a few days after an effective price hike to $18 for those who wanted both discs and streaming. Alarm bells were also being raised that it was part of a further studio-backed attempt to curb imagined piracy. Tennessee's Republican Governor Bill Haslam recently signed into law a bill that would make it illegal to share a "web entertainment" account with more than one person when not cleared, including Netflix as well as Hulu, Slacker, or other music and video services.
Critics have noted that it's difficult to enforce such laws since it's possible that a pirate could watch a video at a different time than the original owner and never run into the limitation. Accounts can also be hijacked without consent and create problems for someone who intended to follow the rules. Download services such as iTunes don't face this limitation since the files are downloaded and already have a set maximum number of machines to prevent both deliberate and unintentional sharing.