HBO and its parent Time Warner have often times gleefully accepted Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world, going as far as to say it is a bonus for the show’s overall trend worldwide.
Something changed when season five aired. HBO launched Game of Thrones in three dozen countries all airing in the same week, making sure that almost every country with a big Game of Thrones following would be able to legally watch the show.
That all seemed great, but then the first four episodes of the season leaked onto the web one day before the premiere. Hitting The Pirate Bay, Kickasstorrents, IsoHunt and all the other torrenting sites within a few hours, HBO’s Game of Thrones premiere lost a little bit of coverage, although it still surpassed all previous ratings.
In the past, HBO may have brushed this off as growing the brand worldwide, but this time it attacked pirates who watched the four episodes, with Canadian internet service providers sending emails to IP holders about illegally downloading copyright material.
It is questionable how HBO managed to force ISPs into sending these emails so quickly, considering copyright holders normally need to get a search warrant to check customer’s recent searches, perhaps a nod to the Communications Security Establishment and its large web of surveillance on the Canadian people.
Eitherway, it is clear HBO does not want any more piracy when it comes to Game of Thrones. It has built HBO Now for customers in the US to watch even without a cable subscription, and set up new deals to show the latest episode a few days after the US launch to keep international customers happy.
Whether HBO will go further and actually issue fines or lawsuits against these pirates is another matter. We suspect the TV network is looking for the person or persons who leaked the originally four episodes online, and is not too bothered about the millions of people watching the episodes.