HBO Goes After ‘Game of Thrones’ Season Five Pirates (CDSA)

By Chris Tribbey

Die-hard fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” were in heaven a week ago when the first four episodes of the fifth season leaked online, just ahead of the April 12 broadcast debut.

In less than 24 hours after the leak (which happened via a review screener), just the first episode had been downloaded more than a million times via torrent sites, according to torrent news site TorrentFreak. “… The leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of ‘Game of Thrones’ originated from within a group approved by HBO to receive them,” a statement to news outlets reads. “We’re actively assessing how this breach occurred.”

In the past, HBO has shrugged off online piracy of its content. Not this time. The network has reportedly sent thousands of copyright infringement letters to IP addresses associated with downloads of the episodes.

“We have received information leading us to believe that an individual has utilized the IP address … at the noted date and time below to host and/or facilitate the downloading and/or streaming of content in which HBO is the copyright owner and/or the owner of exclusive rights in such content,” a copyright notice from anti-piracy company IP-Echelon, on behalf of HBO, reads. “No one is authorized to exhibit, reproduce, transmit, or otherwise distribute HBO Properties without the express written permission of HBO, and the unauthorized distribution of HBO properties constitutes copyright infringement.”

The letter demands the cessation of further downloading or uploading of content, and that the ISP associated with the subscriber “take appropriate action against the account holder.”

“We have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law,” the letter reads.

Additionally, HBO has sent takedown notices to Web sites hosting the pirated episodes, and chastised streaming services — like Twitter-owned Periscope — for hosting the pirated content.

Still, despite the piracy, HBO apparently doesn’t have to worry much about “Game of Thrones” fans tuning in to the initial broadcasts: the April 12 season five premiere drew more than 8 million viewers, up more than a million viewers from the season four premiere.