Sharing a subscription


I have a doubt: what do you think of sharing a subscription? Is it immoral, is it ok, is it a sin? For example, two people using the same Spotify account, or signing a monthly subscription of a magazine, both people reading and splitting the cost.

Thanks in advance.

What does the company TOS allow? Violating TOS is immoral, so, read the fine print


If it’s a physical magazine, the publisher kind of expects that more than one person will read the subscriber copies. For example, a lot of businesses might take out a subscription and leave issues in their waiting rooms for all the customers to read.

Likewise, some subscriptions like cable TV and internet are understood to be “per household” so if there’s 10 people living there, they all use the same subscription. They don’t each have to take one out. It’s understood you don’t let your next door neighbors use it or strangers use it, etc.

In cases where it’s an individual subscription with a password, if it’s something like Spotify then you might put it on your speakers for others to listen to, which is fine, that’s a legitimate reason people use it - to play a playlist at their party or over their Zoom for their friends or whatever. But if somebody wants to actually use the functions in the Spotify account, then they get their own. It’s just common sense.


On first glance, my thought was “why does everybody in the house need their own copy of People magazine?”
My family generally shares everything.

But I know for businesses it’s more murky—they’re not supposed to use some softwares for more than one employee.

When in doubt, check terms of service.

Yeah, any kind of commercial use is going to be a lot more regulated than Joe Smith sitting in his house sharing his Spotify password with his roommate so they can each make some playlists to play around the house.

Usually that sort of thing is self-regulated anyway because Joe Smith doesn’t want to have the whole world messing around in his Spotify account. He might give it to his trusted BFF roommate but not to anybody else. He also might change it if he gets sick of roommate’s antics.

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I totally agree with you.
My doubt is right there on where’s “the line” where it’s ok to share something like what you said about Joe Smith. I agree that sharing it with his roommate seems reasonable, but check this out:
I have a friend, and we both invest on the stock market, so we thought about sharing with him a subscription of a website that provides monthly relatories about the market, some analysis, this kind of thing, but I wanted to ask first if it’s acceptable.

Really, it probably depends on the TOS and your relationship with the person you’re sharing with (same house, or just same circle of friends?). If it were something like Spotify or Pandora, and listening in the car together…or share a car and by that, share the product attached…something like that would not be an issue. Refer to the TOS, or ask the service provider themselves what they do and do not allow.

If this is a situation where you have an AirBNB rental property and people just use those services because they’re attached, I wouldn’t worry, as that’s outside of your control unless you state you turn those off and mention if people want to use such products, they have to log in on their own, and log out before they have access to the house/rental (just bringing this up as I personally know someone in this boat, and the renter messed up the party’s amazon movie list). The settings can get changed in a share where there isn’t a division of logins, so can ruin your recommendations list…

For something like that, I’d probably just tell the friend verbally, “I was reading in XYZ newsletter that the market is probably going to do this or that soon” and maybe also tell him “XYZ newsletter is really good, you should maybe think about subscribing”. Perhaps the newsletter has a free trial he could use to see if he liked it, or you could give him a printout of one issue free so he could decide whether to subscribe. But I wouldn’t share the subscription for that one, partly because if you’re using a stock tips newsletter and making money then you should have enough money to pay the cost of the subscription.

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