HBO Targets Torrent Users Over Game of Thrones Leak
HBO has sent thousands of warnings to Internet subscribers whose connections were used to share leaked Game of Thrones episodes. While there are no legal strings attached for the affected subscribers, HBO hopes that some will think twice before downloading future episodes.
Last week’s pre-release leak of four Game of Thrones episodes is one of the most prominent piracy cases in TV history.
The first copies, leaked from a review screener, quickly spread across public torrent sites and were downloaded millions of times.
While most piracy occurred through BitTorrent, HBO seemed mostly concerned with a few dozen people who watched a shoddy stream via Twitter’s Periscope. Behind the scenes, however, BitTorrent pirates were targeted as well.
Over the past week HBO sent out a flurry of takedown notices to those who shared the controversial leaks in public. TF has seen several notices, which all come in the standard format.
Through its anti-piracy partner IP-Echelon, HBO instructs Internet providers to relay the alerts to the account holder associated with the infringing IP-address.
“1. Contact the subscriber who has engaged in the conduct described above and take steps to prevent the subscriber from further downloading or uploading HBO content without authorization.”
In addition, ISPs may want to take additional measures such as disconnecting the accounts of repeat infringers.
“2. Take appropriate action against the account holder under your Abuse Policy/Terms of Service Agreement.”
As is always the case with DMCA notices, HBO doesn’t know the identity of the alleged pirates, so there are no legal strings attached.
Nonetheless, HBO hopes that the warnings will deter some from downloading future episodes. And indeed, some users may panic when they see that their downloads were flagged.
Not all warnings are effective though. Some DMCA notices were directed at VPN users who can’t be identified and never get to see the warnings in question.
It’s clear that containing the Game of Thrones leaks is important for HBO, but the DMCA notices themselves are nothing new. The company has been sending these out for various shows over the years, they just never got much attention.