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Game of Thrones Director Says Piracy Is Ok While The Copyright Alert System Is Warning Consumers Against It

It didn’t really surprise anyone to find out HBO’s Game of Thrones was the most pirated show of 2012. After all, HBO is a paid subscription service and many people don’t like their limited expensive options in a world immediate entertainment. But I suppose it doesn’t help the cause when one of the people working the show, a director to be more specific, publicly says he doesn’t mind when people pirate his show. And it just so happens that The Copyright Alert System is about to start sending us all notices to stop the illegal downloads. Great timing, dude. 

David Petrarca is the director of two Game of Thrones episodes, “Garden of Bones” and “The Ghost of Harrenhal.” He also has a long list of directorial credits including Dawson’s Creek, Eli Stone, and other HBO series like Boardwalk Empire and True Blood so I can’t imagine the network will be too pleased with what he had to say at Perth’s Writers Festival.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald he was, “a member of a panel discussing the rise of premium cable TV channels and its challenge to novels as a format of storytelling” during which the topic of piracy was brought up. Apparently 10% of last year’s GoT downloads came from Australia.

But Petrarca shrugged and said the illegal downloads did not matter because such shows thrived on “cultural buzz” and capitalised on the social commentary they generated.

“That’s how they survive,” he told the crowd gathered at the University of Western Australia.

He said HBO alone had 26 million subscribers in the US and 60 million worldwide, which meant there was plenty of money filtering in and allowing the channel to produce high quality content despite any illegal downloading.

You might think differently if you watch behind-the-scenes features on the GoT Season 2 DVD where creators often speak of having to make amazing things happen with a small budget but either way, Petrarca’s words come at an interesting time.

The Copyright Alert System was organized by both the film and music industries to help target pirates and are readying action. According to the Associated Press:

Under the new system, complaints will prompt an Internet service provider — such as Verizon or AT&T — to notify a customer whose Internet address has been detected sharing files illegally. A person will be given up to six opportunities to stop before the Internet provider will take more drastic steps, such as temporarily slowing their connection, or redirecting Internet traffic until they acknowledge they received a notice or review educational materials about copyright law.

Consumers who maintain they have been wrongly accused would be forced to pay $35 to appeal the decision. The fee would be reimbursed if they prevail.

Advocates are saying this is more a deterrent and an educational tool for the average consumer, perhaps the average consumers who weren’t going to illegally download something until a creator told them it was ok? Final warnings in this new system would include slowing a user’s connection speed or redirecting internet traffic until they acknowledge the behavior.

(via Sydney Morning Herald)

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    So in other words, these are just lawyers sueing because it’s a source of revenue?

  • Anonymous

    It’s a tricky issue because while the genie is definitely out of the bottle in regards to the internet, there’s gonna be a lot of fighting until a comfortable middle ground is found. Because the industry isn’t gonna sit back while losing potential profits in the face of dwindling viewership and what not.

  • Mary

    No one is suing. And I hardly find 6 notices prior to a fee to be tyrannical.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    A “fee” isn’t involved but nowhere is it written that the ISPs can’t turn this information over to copyright holders.

  • Anonymous

    Piracy is always going to exist because we, myself included, love free shit, but I’m not sure that throttling people’s bandwidth and sending them warnings is going to accomplish anything. What concerns me is the level of cooperation this represents between ISPs and copyright assholes. What’s next? Denying service entirely? Turning over private data to the RIAA or MPAA without consent of the users? This is bad news.

  • Kathryn

    But in HBO’s case, it’s arguably their own bloody fault that GoT is so pirated.

    Aside from the fact they’re subscription only or their shows are typically only available on subscription channels (e.g. in the UK, you can really only see their shows on Sky Atlantic, which you need to subscribe to as part of a package), HBO are terrible for releasing their DVDs/Blu-Rays ‘quickly’. Both seasons of Game of Thrones came out almost a year after their respective seasons started. That’s 8-10 months, at least, where these boxsets aren’t on the shelves making money. That’s 8-10 months they’re basically giving the pirates to get their hands on it.

    I don’t think anyone is in the right to pirate the show – don’t get me wrong – but when you consider that pretty much every other show comes out very soon after the end of the season (heck, BBC in the UK release the current series of Doctor Who as it goes along), HBO really aren’t doing anything to avoid the piracy issue.

  • Anonymous

    Instant worldwide availability after airing, in popular file formats at a fair price is the answer.



  • Travis Kyle Fischer

    I’m by no means a fan of people pirating things they could otherwise pay for, but at the same time I feel little sympathy for people who won’t make the effort to provide that legal option.
    I used to download The Daily Show and Colbert Report. Then I found out they were available online at Hulu, so now I watch it there.
    I used to download fansubs of the newest episode of One Piece every week. Then Funimation started simulcasting, so I watch it there.

    For Game of Thrones, I don’t even get local television, much less cable, much less a premium channel like HBO. I’m throwing money at my computer monitor, but nothing is happening.

    I’ll watch legally if I can. I’ll even pay for it if I feel it’s reasonable. If I really like it, I’ll probably buy the DVD. But if the entertainment industry isn’t willing to meet me halfway… yarg me matey.

  • Anonymous

    I download Community because I simply can’t get NBC. We have Direct TV, but they refuse to get locals for my area and we can’t pick it up on antenna. We buy the seasons when they come out on DVD, but that’s a long time to wait to watch the episodes, especially when you’re someone that goes online and finds it hard to avoid spoilers.

  • Laura Truxillo

    New episodes should be available on Hulu when they come out?

  • Jill Pantozzi

    But DVDs *are* the legal option.

  • EthicalFan

    Distributing copyrighted material on BitTorrent, uTorrent, Vuze or Frostwire is against United States Federal law. In the US, the copyright owner has the exclusive right to determine who may distribute their copyrighted material under US Federal law 17 USC 106.

    17 USC § 106 – Exclusive rights in copyrighted works

    Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:

    (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;

    (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;

    (3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

    Using “filesharing” software like BitTorrent, Vuze or Frostwire violates two elements of this law because it both copies and distributes files. If you record a song, or make a movie that you own and control, you can “share” it with BitTorrent, Vuze or Frostwire and there is no problem. You cannot “share” music and movies that you do not have the rights to share.

    If you do so, you have opened yourself up to the threat of lawsuit. 200,000 people have been sued for “sharing” copyrighted material on the internet without permission since 2010.

  • Diana OmegaSama Davidsson

    I would be willing to pay for almost all of the stuff I download or to stream it from the TV channels own homepage, if I could, but the biggest way to get people to download is a giant “not available in your country” sign. I do buy DVDs/Blue Rays of almost everything though, when they do appear.

  • Kat

    I agree! Where I live, we have to wait over a month for the first episode to air, and the censors cut a ton of scenes. Of course, I could do without some of those scenes myself, but other scenes don’t make sense at all thanks to the cuts. Even Adventure Time suffers from cuts in my region. :/

  • Travis Fischer

    Not if I’m going to participate in “the cultural buzz.”

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know how the CAS will be efficient, but we in France have such a system since 3 years now called the HADOPI (unnecessarily complex french acronym) : two email notifications then a real mail notification and then, connexion over, the provider has to shut down the “pirate” connexion… for 6 months.

    And after 3 years, I can tell it is really unefficient, between direct download that prevent identification (only P2P and torrent is easily trackable) and floating IP adresses, and a cruel lack of technical and financial means considering the number of French internet user that use illegal download… That wasn’t very effective, as a pocket monster trainer would say.

    On the other hand we don’t have such a preoccupying charged channels issue : our series suck most of the time (which is why we are also part of the “cultural buzz” before we can actually buy the physical release – and I do own the GOT first season in blu ray so…).

  • Nicole Elizabeth Currie

    That’s my problem. I can’t watch a good chunk of things when I was in Canada, let alone now that I’m in Korea.

  • Anonymous

    Wonder how this will interact with “streaming” etc.

  • Richard Grant

    The problem is it is next to impossible in this day and age to experience the program unspoiled if you watch it too long after the premier, let alone waiting for the DVD’s to be released nearly a year after the program airs!
    People should be able to watch a program without knowing the big twists well in advance (The show hadn’t even begun airing over here and I already knew *spoiler, that Ned gets killed, spoiler* because of the articles that come up mentioning the twist in the headline, not to mention the memes that spread.)
    HBO doesn’t help matters like this when they even released a poster for Season 2 spoiling this moment before the first season DVD was out!

    While it was relatively simple back before the internet for a program to air in the US then air in the rest of the world without having to worry about spoilers, in this day and age the moment a program airs people have to make an active effort to avoid being spoiled, or download the program. If HBO offered a legal option to watch the program closer to the release date, most people would take it!

    They insist upon releasing the DVD’s of the series a year after the program airs in an age where a film will end it’s run in the cinema and the DVD will be out 2-3 weeks later. If people knew a DVD was going to be out a month after the program finishes airing, instead of a year, they’d be willing to wait.

    While a fair few networks do attempt to use legal methods to combat pirating, such as streaming, HBO seems to be actively going in the other direction…which just encourages pirating!

    The issue isn’t as simple as ‘pirating is illegal, therefore people should always chose the entertainment’ Game of Thrones, and other programs, are meant to be first and foremost entertainment. When the ability to enjoy the program is limited by outside sources (cannot watch due to restraints beyond control, avoid spoilers until the dvd would also require a restriction on what sites you view…or even a total net lock down) and you loose out on feeling part of the community watching the program, both on the forums and in real-life, which does place a damper on part of the experience (as you are no longer experiencing it with others.)

    Networks like HBO have to acknowledge that the old model is no longer applicable, the internet isn’t going to suddenly go away, while they may be against piracy their current methods encourage alot of potential customers, who would be willing to pay, to take part in it!

  • Amy

    I agree with the need for more options to legally buy. I was really hoping for the option to subscribe to HBO streaming without needing a cable package and adding HBO on. I don’t watch much tv so it makes no sense to spend a large amount of money for a huge amount of channels just to watch a couple shows I want on HBO. It would work very well to be able to subscribe to cable channels in an a la carte way–without needing to buy an expensive package. I’ve been waiting for shows to come to Netflix–but as previously pointed out, it is very difficult to avoid being spoiled, and even when I can, it is disappointing to not being able to participate in the online and offline conversations about the shows that occur as it is airing.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like you need to move somewhere that practices the art of freedom.