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Game of Thrones Sets New Piracy Record, Reactions and Roundup

Posted by: , 18:48 AEST, Fri June 20, 2014

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Millions have downloaded the season finale of Game of Thrones just hours after the episode originally aired
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Image/Photo Credit: HBO

The season finale of the latest season of Game of Thrones has set a new piracy record, as opinions are divided as to how to solve the piracy problem.

The season four finale was downloaded by more than 1.5 million file-sharers in the first 12 hours alone, with that number expected to rise to more than 7.5 million in the following days, according to BitTorrent news website TorrentFreak.

In comparison, the episode, titled 'The Children', was watched by 7.1 million viewers in the U.S., which itself is also a new record.

At its peak, more than 250,000 downloaders were downloading a single copy of the pirated episode simultaneously, breaking the previous record of 200,000. The previous record was also set by a season 4 episode of the hit HBO series.

HBO, surprisingly, has not commented negatively on the piracy epidemic, and instead has been proud to boast about the piracy numbers as better than winning an Emmy.

Once again, Australia dominated the by-country breakdown of pirates, beating much more populous countries including the United States and the UK. The unwanted honor has led to pressure from rights holder on the government to introduce harsher penalties for downloaders, including fines and account suspensions. 

In Australia, the country's sole cable TV provider, Foxtel, has exclusive broadcast and online rights to the show, with popular digital services such as iTunes blocked from being able to provide new episode to the show's numerous fans. Figures released by Foxtel shows that new episodes are being watched by 500,000 subscribers, but as many people download the episodes illegally. Foxtel has labeled downloaders as "thieves" and have called for a governmental crackdown.

Australian consumer group Choice, however, blames Foxtel's "outdated business model" for the surge in piracy and says the company can only blame itself.

"It expects people to pay for a whole range of products when they may want [just] one. You're getting Real Housewives of every city, rather than just Game of Thrones, which you want," says Choice's Erin Turner. "It also locks people into viewing content on particular devices ... if you want to watch Game of Thrones for example, Foxtel is the only place to go."

Meanwhile in the UK, another hotspot for 'Thrones' piracy, ISP BT says that piracy has become acceptable and that's sets a dangerous precedent. BT has vowed to work with the entertainment industry and the government to come up with a solution to the problem.


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