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HBO targets Game of Thrones illegal downloads

The first episode of much-awaited Games of Thrones Season 7 was released earlier this week receiving over sixteen million views on official channels – the most in the history of the network.

Game of Thrones, based on the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books by George R. R. Martin, is a sprawling epic, dealing with court intrigue, fantasy wars and dragons.

The hit series has broken several piracy records and has been named as the most illegally download show since the last five years, and so far there has been plenty of interests in the latest season.

According to piracy analysis company MUSO, the first episode of seventh season of the fantasy epic series been illegally viewed over 90 million times across the globe. This staggering figure is nearly six times as much as the official views and includes illegal streaming, torrents, and direct downloads.

Game of Thrones season 7 episode 1 was streamed 77.9 million times, torrented on public trackers 8.3 million times, directly downloaded 4.9 million times, and torrented from private trackers 500,000 times.

Most illegal views came from the United States (15.1 million), followed by the UK (6.2 million), Germany (4.9 million), India (4.3 million), with Indonesia (4.3 million) rounding out the top five.

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The piracy has not gone unnoticed by HBO and the network, along its anti-terror partner, is monitoring popular torrents and trying to take them down. It is also sending warning messages to people downloading and sharing episodes.

Piracy news site TorrentFreak reports that ISPs who have customers torrenting the season seven premiere are being sent warnings telling them to change their ways in order to prevent further infringements.

“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 authorization,” the notification begins.

“HBO owns the copyright or exclusive rights to Game of Thrones, and the unauthorised download or distribution constitutes copyright infringement. Downloading unauthorised or unknown content is also a security risk for computers, devices, and networks.”

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Under US copyright law, ISPs are not obligated to forward these emails, which are sent as a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notification. The company doesn’t know the identity of the alleged pirates, and would need to go to court to find out which has never happened before.

Game of Thrones pirates have received these warnings before as similar notices were sent out last year for pirated episodes of the sixth season. HBO is unlikely to file lawsuits against pirates, but the company hopes that affected subscribers will think twice before downloading future episodes.

The notice also asks ISPs to inform subscribers about the various legal alternatives that are available, to give them a push in the right direction.

“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.

This message may have an effect on some pirates but they only cover a small fraction of the piracy landscape. Millions of people use pirate streaming tools and websites to watch Game of Thrones, and these views can’t be monitored.



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