Four arrested for pirating Game of Thrones season 7
Game of Thrones pirates beware. HBO has had its first real victory against pirates of its hit show as four people have been arrested for leaking new episodes ahead of release.
The Indian police have reported that they’ve arrested four people in conjunction with releasing Game of Thrones season 7, episode 4 ahead of its Monday airing in the country. The arrest occurred after the police received a complaint from a company responsible for storing and processing TV episodes from an app.
“We investigated the case and have arrested four individuals for unauthorised publication of the fourth episode from season seven,” deputy commissioner of Police Akbar Pathan told AFP.
The four responsible for pirating the show were employees at said TV show processing company and so leaked episodes by making use of their official database access. All four have been accused of criminal breach of trust and computer-related offences and will be detained until 21 August amid investigation.
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Game of Thrones is one of HBO and Sky Atlantic’s flagship shows and, last month, the premiere of season 7 became the most pirated show of the year. According to Torrent Freak, more than 130,000 people were actively sharing the episode online via torrents and the first set of video files emerged within minutes of the official broadcast starting.
A quick scour online revealed that the most popular torrent from uploading group “ettv” had more than 345,000 “seeders” (people who are actively sharing the show) and 95,000 “leechers” (people pulling files from seeders and sharing them at the same time) the day after the broadcast. Like every year, it’s expected for this number to grow into the millions.
Piracy of any show is a crime, but the trouble HBO faces is the impossibility of actually catching any of those downloading Game of Thrones illegally. Even if HBO has possession of IP addresses used to download a variety of different Game of Thrones torrents, it doesn’t actually know who those people are. To do so it would have to head to the courts to find out – something that’s never happened before.
It’s also worth remembering that many people who download from torrents also use VPNs, misleading many tracking services to the incorrect IP address.
That didn’t stop HBO issuing a stern warning to the pirates. In a statement following the new series premiere, HBO said it had the IP addresses of those uploading, downloading and sharing pirated episodes of Game of Thrones and they will be dealt with imminently.
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“We have information leading us to believe that the IP address xx.xxx.xxx.xx was used to download or share Game of Thrones without authorisation,” HBO’s DMCA notification reads. “HBO owns the copyright or exclusive rights to Game of Thrones, and the unauthorized download or distribution constitutes copyright infringement. Downloading unauthorised or unknown content is also a security risk for computers, devices, and networks.”
In reality, it’s likely that HBO just wants to make casual opportunists think twice before downloading Game of Thrones again. Coming after Game of Thrones fans with court cases wouldn’t be good for business or brand image – even if these people aren’t paying for it in the first place.
It’s not just torrenting that HBO has to tackle, as illegal streaming sites have also seen a huge boost in viewing figures around Game of Thrones. One such site explained to Torrent Freak that the season premiere was generating around 20,000 views per hour on its site – not a number to be sniffed at.
Despite those high streaming numbers, broadcasters remain focused on taking down torrents first.
Last year HBO tried to crack down on pirates by teaming up with IP Echelon to pull illegal content from the internet. It’s unclear how successful that’s been but, seeing as India had copies of Game of Thrones season 7 episode 1 online before HBO’s official Indian broadcast partner Hostar could air, it suggests there’s a long way to go to stop these files ending up in the wrong hands to start with.
Stemming the tide of piracy also isn’t easy when your servers all go offline once the show goes live on your catch-up service. Foxtel’s services died in Australia as did Hostar’s in India and HBO’s own servers also collapsed in a handful of other countries. Thankfully Sky Atlantic in the UK seemed to be able to manage the influx of viewers without much issue.
If you’re wondering how you can watch Game of Thrones season 7 in the UK without having to break the law to do so, take a look at our handy guide.