Why Netflix Is Getting Sued By Its Own Users

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Netflix is one of the fastest growing successes that the entertainment industry has ever seen, and it's showing no signs of slowing down in the future. As one would assume, the streaming giant didn't get that popular through stupidity and lazy marketing, but one user seems to think he has found a way around the somewhat controversial recent price hike, and it involves slapping Netflix with a breach of contract lawsuit that could potentially lead to a class action suit with millions and millions of subscribers serving as plaintiffs.

Here's how that crazy plan got conceived. Customer George Keritsis claims that when he first got signed up for Netflix, it was because he saw an ad promoting the $7.99 monthly fee along with a guarantee that subscribers would retain that price for the entire time he held the account. Keritsis says he also called Netflix's headquarters and that the representative assured him the $7.99 charge would be grandfathered through whatever price hikes would come later. As you might imagine, his rates indeed went up after that, but he didn't raise a fuss until he got the recent letter alerting him that the new $9.99 charge would be put into effect.

When Keritsis called about it, this Netflix rep told him the grandfathered-in note was there, but when the issue was raised that the new fee did not comply with the lifetime guarantee he'd originally signed up with, Keritsis was allegedly told that everyone's rates were going up, not just his. Which didn't really address his problem, which is why his next step was to get litigious with it.

According to Keritsis' breach of contract suit, an attempt is being made to get class certification on everyone who entered into a similar deal with Netflix promising an unchanging subscription cost, and according to THR, it's estimated that over 22 million people could be affected if the case moves forward. That's a hell of a lot of people for Netflix to be indebted to, especially as the company is dumping money on every kind of project imaginable. And if there was some kind of settlement to be made, I'd bet that more rising costs would be coming in the future.

At this point, I'm extremely happy with just about everything that Netflix has delivered on the original scripted programming front or on the sexual front (NSFW), so I didn't have that big of a problem paying a couple more bucks to keep the subscription alive. (I mean really, I'd pay double just to get Luke Cage released quicker.) But if it's true that I got duped by the streaming giant, along with millions of others, I'd be a little more interested to see how this all gets worked out.

Many subscribers were given a grandfather clause when Netflix raised its prices a couple of years ago, and it was only newer customers that had to cough up more money. But that deadline has passed, and now we're (presumably) all paying the latest standard fee. Is it possible that we'll all have some kind of a windfall coming soon? Probably not, but maybe we'll get a couple of months free, because a guy can dream.

UPDATE: If the squabble over pricing wasn't enough, word just came down that the United States Federal Government has decided to alter its position on sharing passwords, which is pretty much a disaster for a large portion of Netflix users. Flip over to the next page for a full explanation.

A few days ago, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that giving away a password for paid content technically violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. That's the "hacking law" which has been expanded to help prosecute cases that don't necessarily involve straight hacking.

The ruling in question involves a former Korn/Ferry International employee named David Nosal. He used another employee's password information to get into the databases the research firms housed. He was convicted, and it was upheld this week by the Ninth Court. The recent ruling came with a new explanation, and that specifically is what has people terrified. It mentioned using "unauthorized" passwords as violating federal law, and there's about a zero percent chance Netflix or HBO or anyone else is ever going to expressly give people the right to share passwords.

For a full explanation of the case, you can click here.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.