Game of Piracy

Game of Thrones, the HBO series based off of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels, is reportedly the most pirated show on television. Downloaders have been setting bittorrent swarm records this season downloading GOT.

So what makes GOT so irresistible to otherwise law-abiding citizens? There are a few different reasons that people pirate television shows:

Image provided by Flickr creative commons user Criss!

1.) The way that HBO service is set up, users are required, in many cases, to subscribe to HBO on top of their existing cable package. If a user is only interested in one particular show, the cost of an HBO subscription may seem silly, and the user is driven to download the show illegally and for free.

2.) Because of delayed distribution to international markets, many people in other parts of the world resort to pirating the show rather than having to wait long stretches of time, up to six months in some countries, to watch the show after it has aired in the U.S. Finnish actor and director Timo Vuorensola, who directed Disney’s “Iron Sky” publicly declared that the HBO service that he receives in Finland is sub-par, with long delays before the Finnish audience can view the latest episodes. Vuorensola went as far as to say that he may start downloading the show from notorious download site thepiratebay.

3.) This show is so ridiculously good that non-subscribers just do not want to wait for it to come out on DVD in order to purchase the show legally. With several different dynamic story lines evolving at once, and the author’s penchant for killing off main characters willy-nilly, this show has viewers absolutely hooked.

But is pirating really that bad for business? David Petrarca, director of GOT, mentioned that he believed in the benefit of the “cultural buzz” generated by pirated episodes. Martin called the immense levels of piracy a sort of strange compliment, although perhaps not the best sort of compliment.

Even if pirating the show is not as damaging to HBO as it may seem, potential pirates should be aware – especially Comcast users. Earlier this year, Comcast implemented the “six strikes” of copyright infringement on users who download illegally. These users will receive an email alert when Comcast catches them illegally streaming a show – and according to some reports they seem to be paying particular attention to users downloading GOT episodes. Repeat offenders could be cut off from cable or internet access. Comcast has been criticized for not properly using official channels to notify users of this new initiative.


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