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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.


U.S. Ambassador to Australia Asks Australians to Please Stop Pirating Game of Thrones

Jeffrey Bleich isn’t your normal Game of Thrones fan. Oh, no. He also happens to be the U.S. Ambassador to Australia. And, in his official capacity as Ambassador, he has a message for you, Aussies: Stop pirating Game of Thrones! Stop it! Bad Aussies!

A post to Bleich’s official Facebook page began as such:

“Earlier this month, my family and I joined millions of others in watching the premiere of the third season of Game of Thrones. For those who aren’t already fans, it is a great epic chronicling the devious machinations of rival noble houses fighting for supremacy. Unfortunately, nearly as epic and devious as the drama, [sic] is its unprecedented theft by online viewers around the world.”

That’s pushing it a bit, Ambassador Bleich. There’s child-murder and torture and incest a’plenty in Game of Thrones. Rein it in with your analogy there.

He continues:

The file-sharing news website TorrentFreak estimated that Game of Thrones was the most-pirated TV series of 2012… As the Ambassador here in Australia, it was especially troubling to find out that Australian fans were some of the worst offenders with among the highest piracy rates of Game of Thrones in the world. While some people here used to claim that they used pirate sites only because of a delay in getting new episodes here, the show is now available from legitimate sources within hours of its broadcast in the United States.”

Australian readers—can you confirm this? Or is Bleich misinformed, much like Ned Stark was when Littlefinger said he could be trusted?

Bleich ties his message into UN World Book and Copyright Day, which was the same day he posted the message, explaining that piracy is “not some victimless crime” and that a “Here in Australia about 8% of the workforce works in the copyright industries and depends on people obeying the law – not to mention the artists in Ireland, Malta, Croatia, Iceland, and Morocco, where the series is filmed, who depend on fans obeying the law.”

He continues:

“If the 4 million people who watched Game of Throne legally had been illegal downloaders – the show would be off the air and there would never have been a Season 3… I realize that fans of Game of Thrones who have used illegal file-sharing sites have reasons.  They will say it was much easier to access through these sites, or that they got frustrated by the delay in the first season, or their parents wouldn’t pay for a subscription, or they will complain about some other issue with copyright laws.  But none of those reasons is an excuse – stealing is stealing.”

And the glorious conclusion:

“So please celebrate UN World Book and Copyright Day by doing the right thing – Tyrion Lannister will thank you for it.”

There’s not an exact equivalent to online piracy in Westeros, but if there were one, I’m confident in saying that I don’t think Tyrion would give a hoot about it.

I feel kind of guilty that I’m laughing about this, but… guys, it’s hilarious. Not Bleich’s stance on Game of Thrones piracy—I think the situation is more complicated than he makes it out to be (I’ve gone into it elsewhere), but even if I don’t agree with his message 100%, his opinion is certainly valid.

No, what I find hilarious is that a U.S. Ambassador is taking to Facebook to upbraid people for doing something he doesn’t like. I’d like to say that if I were an Ambassador I wouldn’t post things about how the Oxford comma should be used more often, guys shouldn’t sit with their knees spread on the subway (I hate that), Quentin Tarantino needs to stop giving himself cameos, and how if Disney makes bad Star Wars sequels I will bring all the power of the U.S. Ambassador to Australia against them. But I know that I’d probably crack eventually.

And yeah, you can make the point that he’s “using U.S. tax dollars” to talk about Game of Thrones, when he should be doing… whatever else he should be doing. But c’mon. It’s a Facebook message. And one that’s law-related, at that!

My hat is off to you, Ambassador Bleitch.

(via: Kotaku)

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  • Anonymous

    I think I read somewhere that HBO doesn’t mind piracy as much as they should since it gets the word out on their material. It was along the lines of “Well, if you watch a pirated episode, it’s grainy and scratchy with bad quality. But when the fan loves it and has the funds to buy a better-looking copy (Blu Ray, HD download), they usually do so.”

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Said one kangaroo: “No.”

  • Dayami Chavez

    Yes, they did say that, here is a link:
    So basically, suck it Bleitch.

  • Jill Pantozzi
  • Anonymous

    That makes total sense, too, for that kind of subscription service.

  • Anonymous

    You wouldn’t steal a SWORD
    You wouldn’t steal a DRAGON
    You wouldn’t steal the THRONE


  • Angelica Brenner

    “Within hours” isn’t necessarily fast enough for the super-die-hard fandomy types, though. I don’t watch Game of Thrones, but I’m a big Doctor Who fan and my Tumblr dash practically /explodes/ the minute the UK broadcast is done.

    I watch the BBC America broadcast as it’s all neatly DVR’d by the time I get home from work, but rumor has it there are ways for people who can’t stand hours of spoiler-dodging to watch it earlier. I don’t watch Game of Thrones, but I imagine Australian fans run into a similar dilemma.

    Of course, that’s more of a time zone problem than anything HBO or the BBC or whoever could reasonably solve – broadcasting shows “live” across hemispheres would put them at weird hours. Until DVRs are as common on TVs as “on” buttons, scheduling hit shows at 1pm isn’t gonna work.

  • shell

    Hey, it’s “rein it in.” Like you rein in a horse.

  • Deird

    If they’re only showing it on non-free-to-air, they’re going to have problems. Hardly any Aussies pay for subscription channels – it’s just not how we work.

  • Anonymous

    In other news, Mayor Bloomberg has requested that New York City drivers “just take turns” at merging lanes around construction zones.

  • Anonymous

    In fairness, we have a good reason for pirating Doctor Who.

    We have to have our animated GIFs ready for the Livetumblring of the episode when it’s run on BBC America.

  • Anonymous

    SO making this a graphic when I get home.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Oops. I knew that. I blame the subject of the article being a show about kings. Edited!

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    Part of the reason why it’s so widespread (and not just Game of Thrones but other TV programs) is that most Australians don’t see downloading TV programs as piracy. They consider it tantamount to recording something off your TV (which, by the letter of the law, is piracy too.) The other aforementioned reason (many times in this comments section) is the rarity of pay TV for Australians due to the bundling price.

    I’m not sure if Netflix is available for Australians, but if Australians had access to a HBO Netflix type service, I would say that piracy would drop somewhat. However, there seems to be way too many businesses that refuse service to Australians for whatever esoteric reasons – some content is blocked for no good reason as well. Therefore, Australians turn to piracy – sometimes there is simply no other way until waiting maybe a year to pass until it gets released on disc. If you have international friends, enjoy having your season spoiled relatively quickly :P

  • Buzzedangel

    It’s not only GoT that is pirated, many American tv shows are delayed for months before they are aired on tv, with DVD/Bluray releases up to 7 months after that so it can be almost two years before content can be seen by everyone. And when it finally is aired, they never play it at times when people are able to watch it, often changing days and air times with no warning or stop airing it altogether while irritating never ending seasons of cricket or AFL are given buckets of airtime.

  • Mimi Rice

    What I can’t understand is why HBO isn’t taking advantage of the situation and releasing episodes for purchase the day after they air. Hell, even a week after they air. I can’t even imagine how much money they’d make*. Most people really don’t want to watch 500mb [if you're lucky] files, or stream from shady websites.

    Like, I’d have to think the millions they’d make from those sales would eclipse the number of people who are blackmailed into buying an HBO package from their cable provider.

    [ I can't count how many times I've been approached by regular, ordinary non-tech people asking how they can 'pirate some game of thrones.' People treat it like the cable box of yore. ]

  • Anonymous

    Well, you could argue he’s just doing his job. Game of Thrones is just as much a US export as, say, a Joint Strike Fighter.

  • Jason Hunt

    And not one shit was given by Australia when this arse clown opened his mouth.

  • Anonymous

    Someone should ask people buying those “better-looking copies” how many of them pirated the show to watch it before spending money on it. I don’t have any data to prove it, but I expect close to 100% would say they did.

    These days people consume ridiculous amounts of media content and with the prices being what they are, most of us can probably afford 10% of it. What media people don’t seem to notice is that this 10% multiplied by MILLIONS adds up to a mountain of money. They could offer their content in premium quality for the full price and in regular/low quality for something more affordable (And make it available worldwide, not just to Americans. This is the internet, we’re sort of everywhere at the same time.). They could promote the idea that downloading for free should be treated like a test-drive, after which you should spend as much as you can comfortably afford on buying the things you liked the most. But no, it’s better to call majority of internet users thiefs and calculate their loses by multiplying the number of downloads and the full price, as if without piracy all those people would buy the legal version of the product.

  • Kelly Hutchinson

    Netflix is blocked in Australia, we also don’t have it here in NZ. There has recently been a similar but with a lot less content alternative called quickflix show up. It is only movies though so no shows and it costs like twice as much.

    Most people I know download shows as they can’t afford the ridiculous price to get any of the subscription bundles. Then if they do they still end up downloading because things just won’t air here or if they do it is about a month later when the internet has most likely spoiled everything for you anyway. Things are slowly getting better though

  • Katherine

    To get a pay tv subscription that gets you game of thrones would cost you $60 a month. To download an episode off itunes cost $3.50. Netflix is not available. I don’t know how much it costs on the xbox (which in my experience is the only way i’ve seen of a young person have pay tv, which makes sense because gamers are willing to pay for content, though many i know don’t buy from aussie stores). We have less of a subscription culture for our content. I guess that’s what the media companies need to solve. It’s not good enough to put it in a form i don’t consume.

  • Anonymous

    They only air it on one thing in Australia, cable and not every household can really afford it to begin with. Beside, I ended up buying the dvds when they came out as well as my friends, so really they should just stop their bitching.

  • Anonymous

    I’d say yes to all three.

  • Bevin Warren

    Here’s a suggestion. change your delivery system… In Australia we can’t really use something like NetFlix because we have CAPPED DATA LIMITS… unlike Americans who have unlimited data allowances (and sadly this is changing). We just cannot afford to stream the shows… Put the shows up for sale as a download at a reasonable price and most people will probably buy it. heck how much do we buy the merchandise already… Im willing to bet the show makes more money in merchanidise then it ever does in viewings… Change your model – The Mechandise and episodes sold as Downloads are your real money earners.

  • Mark Calderwood

    I’m sure you can imagine us Australians’ response to this fatuous arseclown.

  • Brad Gall

    I paid the Iron Price for my HBO!

  • Brian

    Here in America, we can’t even get it on iTunes.

  • Wong Chia Chi

    No. Get out. lol

  • Wong Chia Chi

    I think it’s because in the past, before the internet, they could have used this to increase subscriptions. All the excutives involved are like 15 years behind in their thinking. I’m sure they have younger people in the department who are suggesting this that they aren’t listening to because they just want to hustle a subscription on people because that’s how it’s always been done.

  • Lisa Still Smouldering

    If I was him, I’d be advocating for the poor Aussie fans and bitching out HBO for their crappy business model of overseas distribution, ’cause, you know, that’s the ACTUAL problem.

  • Sunhead Darkspear

    Happy to confirm this. Over the last 25 years the TV stations over here have developed a relationship with the Geek consumers that has produced this attitude. We have time and again been forced to play roulette with late night time slots for shows, that moved with no notice, or could be skipped if a local sportball event was delayed. No only Geek consumers, but mainstream ones as well.
    The single greatest Epic Fail was when they tried to delay airing the final ep of Friends by something like 9 months. This is what broke the camels back and caused mainstream Oz to start pirating.
    I wrote to them once about the wandering timeslot, when I was younger, and the response I got back was ‘thank-you for your interest… blah blah blah, shows aired after 10pm are not Rated’
    The TV stations are now reaping what they sowed over the last 25 years.

  • Danielle Kouyoumdjian

    Aw, but they are just paying the Iron Price.

  • Anonymous

    as an Australian Game of Thrones fan, as far as I know, there is only _one_ way to legitemately get GOT episodes here in any sort of reasonable timeframe, and that has only been around as an option for this season. Season one was completely impossible to get legally, and Season 2 _was_ available, but ridiculously (weeks) late, iirc. Which, for any GOT fan who uses the internet (presumably every single Australian fan that isn’t someone’s parent, haha, since you can’t get it sans internet) is potentially disastrous!

    This season is available on the (Australian) iTunes store for $33-ish for HD (a very reasonable sum, I thought – probably significantly better than what American HBO subscribers pay), although the episodes are still delayed – I couldn’t get episode 5 until midnight last night, so about 6 hours slower than torrents – damn, it feels good to finally be giving my money to a show I love so much.

    You can get the season in SD for $28-ish Australian dollars, so there’s a cheaper option, too.

    For people saying that if HBO hates piracy so much they should air it on Aussie free to air tv – that’s completely unrealistic – HBO isn’t a free channel in America, either, as I understand it it’s an additional paid channel in a paid cable service. So that just isn’t going to happen and isn’t a realistic request to make.

  • Liam Morris

    i have been watching big bang theory online for one simple reason

    in the usa there up to episode 21

    in the uk (where am from)there up to episode 13

    they want to make me wait they lose out

    hbo makes GOT sky only in the uk well am using virgin so ill watch it online its there own stupid fault for being retarded and restricting there shows

  • Anonymous

    Indeed it is. The problem is mostly that nobody’s going to listen to him anyway, and his message is delivered in a really cheesy forced-reference kind of way.

  • M.G. Silverstein

    This made me laugh pretty hard. Thanks for that.

  • Anonymous

    I’m guessing this has nothing to do with anyone who would comment here and is more a signalling thing: Hey Aussie pols, I care about this. Look, US companies, I’m standing up for you!

  • Anonymous

    Pretty much.