HBO has seriously stepped up its war on internet piracy of “Game of Thrones.”
Not only has its effort to pull down pirated footage become more aggressive, but response times are faster, and its language to internet providers has become more pointed.
According to TorrentFreak.com, HBO has enlisted an antipiracy partner, IP-Echelon, which is sending out thousands of copyright warnings for alleged piracy of “Game of Thrones.”
These notices to internet service providers, or ISPs, contain the IP addresses for users suspected of sharing “Thrones” episodes through BitTorrent, in which members share their files for faster uploads through a file distribution system – so the BitTorrent service is not actually the one hosting the files.
The warnings ask that ISPs contact the members in question “and take the proper steps to prevent further downloading or sharing of unauthorized content and additional infringement notices.”
Additionally, these notices encourage the ISPs to inform their members of the legal means to view the popular fantasy drama, something the top torrent news site had never seen in these kinds of notices.
“We also encourage you to inform the subscriber that HBO programming can easily be watched and streamed on many devices legally by adding HBO to the subscriber’s television package,” the notice reads.
In addition, HBO has been able to pull down “Thrones” torrents from the internet in amazingly fast times, often in just minutes following their posting, TorrentFreak observed. Typically, torrent sites ignore such copyright requests, but a search on one of the biggest torrent sites, Kicka–Torrents, shows that the top 100 torrents for the first two episodes of the sixth season of “Thrones” have been removed.
That suggests that HBO’s antipiracy partner is monitoring the situation in real time, broadly, and that the legal notices are being taken seriously.
But it isn’t just torrent sites being targeted. HBO is also hitting up video providers like YouTube.
In one case, as previously reported by our sister site, Tech Insider, a Spanish man with a clear inside show source has been spoiling upcoming “Thrones” episodes. His videos have been pulled down from YouTube for copyright infringement – the last one in just a few hours – even though he uses no photos or footage from the show in the videos. Clearly, this represents a huge question about how far copyrights can be interpreted.
HBO told Business Insider of its tactics in a statement: “HBO aggressively protects its programming, but we find it counterproductive to publicly discuss specific anti-theft tactics.”
The channel hasn’t always been so aggressively against piracy – at least in public. In 2013, its programming president, Michael Lombardo, said, “It is a compliment of sorts. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”
Some of this new aggressiveness on HBO’s part can be attributed to its offerings on HBO Now, its streaming service that doesn’t require a cable subscription. It had been seen by the company as a way to curtail piracy by attracting people who don’t want to subscribe to an expensive cable package.
But it hasn’t worked. After a year of offering HBO Now, “Game of Thrones” was still the No. 1 pirated show on TV, and all signs point to overall piracy increasing.