Chinese web users found on January 4 that Youku, a video streaming platform that operates as a subsidiary of Alibaba, had changed the login rules for member accounts. Now, only one account can be logged in on a single smartphone simultaneously, down from the previous limit of three.
In response, Youku said that the membership agreement clearly stipulated that membership service is a personal, non-transferable, non-commercial, revocable, time-limited and non-exclusive license. Users can only use it for non-commercial purposes and personal viewing.
The platform added that, in order to protect the security of user accounts and crack down on illegal transactions, and considering the usage habits of most users, Youku’s protocol stipulates that user accounts can log in to up to three devices at the same time, including smartphones, tablets, TVs and more. VIP users can watch videos on two devices at the same time.
Last year, Youku adjusted the membership system of its projection screen, and increased its VIP fees by between 20 and 40 percent.
Regarding the recent change, some web users expressed their complaints, with one writing, “My membership is available until 2024, and now they tell me the new policy.” Another wrote, “I have two smartphones and one tablet. This rule is unfair,” while another said, “Youku’s low income is caused by fewer users, not account sharing.”
Some users expressed opposition to the behavior of sharing member accounts, with one writing, “The phenomenon of renting and selling member accounts is tantamount to piracy.” Some users called for the video platform to provide more flexible options such as family-sharing memberships.
In recent years, streaming platforms both in China and abroad have tended to strengthen their management of member accounts. Last November, Netflix charged users extra fees to share their account passwords with strangers, piloting them in Peru, Chile and Costa Rica. iQiyi may force users to log out if one account is used on multiple smartphones. Tencent Video users need to log in through QQ or WeChat accounts, which reduces account sharing from the source.
On January 4, the Chinese Communist Party-owned People’s Daily published a commentary, mentioning that “paid account sharing” hurts video platforms and brings difficulty to user rights protection. Some users are greedy for cheap membership fees from informal channels, which contain the risk that their rights and interests cannot be guaranteed.