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Winter Is Coming

On Second Thought, Piracy Is NOT Ok, Says HBO And Game of Thrones Director

When Game of Thrones director David Petrarca made a brief statement in support of online piracy at Perth’s Writing Festival over the weekend, he probably wasn’t expecting it to get him in trouble with his bosses. While we’re not sure he did directly, HBO felt the need to issue a statement and after that, Petrarca was quick to retract his own. 

What started this all was Petrarca’s words on a panel about paid cable networks. He told them illegal downloads didn’t matter because the show thrived on “cultural buzz” and that there was enough money coming in for piracy to make a negative impact.

But Game of Thrones stands as the most pirated show of 2012 and HBO felt the need to make a statement after hearing about Petrarca’s opinion. They wrote, “Game of Thrones is sold worldwide, available legally on a large variety of viewing platforms and is one of HBO’s most popular series. With that kind of success comes a great amount of social media chatter so can’t say we see an upside to illegal downloads.”

Now whether HBO told him to or he decided to try and get himself out of hot water himself, Petrarca did a followup with the Sydney Morning Herald saying some media outlets made it seem like he condoned illegal downloading:

“I am 100 per cent, completely and utterly against people illegally downloading anything,” he said on Wednesday.

Petrarca said his point was that the downloads demonstrated that the shows were in such high demand that people were willing to go to great lengths to find ways to watch them, particularly in countries like Australia where the shows were not seen for some time after they aired in the United States.

“A buzz is created by the fact that so many people want it,” he said.

Petrarca said he hoped people would one day be able to legally obtain programs from anywhere in the world and not be limited by where they were.

“It is my hope that technology will find a way to take care of the piracy issue,” he said.

“Nobody wins by illegally downloading content.

“I think most people would be willing to pay for a show they love.”

What do you think?

(via Hero Complex, Blastr)

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  • Anonymous

    “I think most people would be willing to pay for a show they love.”

    Quite agree, cannot stand the justification: “I pirated it because I can’t afford it.”

  • Shard Aerliss

    Bah, cable. Here, pay for a bunch of channels you don’t want, a bunch of shows you don’t want just to have access to one or two hours of good TV a week. Just make everything available DTO or at least live simulcast on pay-per-view basis across the globe already. Problem solved.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I think there’s a difference between justification and reaction…and that sounds like a reaction mislabelled as a justification.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    “Nobody wins by illegally downloading content.”
    Heh, well, then there must not be any pirates.

  • Anonymous

    Well, then, I have good news for HBO: based on the number of friends who I get emails from going “You have HBO, right? Would you be willing to let me borrow your HBOgo login?” right around the time the Game of Thrones season starts, I suspect that if they offered a way to pay for HBOgo separate from a cable subscription, a good 75% of GoT piracy would go *poof* very quickly.

  • Joanna

    Make it so we can download legally. Get with the times, guys.

  • Kathryn

    Yes, they would be willing to pay for it.

    But HBO do NOT make it easy. DVD/Blu-Ray releases happen 9-10 months after the season finishes. That means people who don’t have HBO/Sky Atlantic/Insert Broadcaster Here have to wait a year after it starts to legally get hold of a copy of the series.

    Does it make their piracy right? No. But you cannot say HBO do everything reasonable in their power to curb the piracy. Piracy is born out of unavailability as much as, if not more than, a lack of spending ability. You increase the availability, you reduce the piracy. Simple. As.

  • Anonymous

    Love phrases like that, that have no real thought behind them. Just nonsense that sounds good to the ear and makes certain people feel better. Meh.

  • Nicholas Santasier

    Yes, I wouldn’t mind paying, if it was only for the one show. I don’t have cable, can’t afford it, but if they did Amazon streaming, or netflix, or even iTunes for each individual show, like many channels (Doctor Who is an example), then I would watch it that way.

  • Lady Viridis

    People ARE willing to pay for shows they love. Which is why they keep asking HBO to make its online streaming service available separately like Netflix. If this were an option I guarantee piracy of shows like GoT would go down. They won’t do it because, as I understand it, of drama and financial politics between companies like HBO and the TV/cable companies. It’s stupid. People are willing to pay if they’ll just make their shows a little more accessible. Making the shows hard to find legally and then complaining about piracy… what else do they expect?

  • Anonymous

    Give me ala cart purchasing of shows on HBO Go and I will pay. Basically, make it just as convenient as pirating, but at a reasonable price. I’ll gladly pay $15 for a season pass to a single show. Hell have people pay and then have a coupon of some kind involved. Give them two months access to the show, then when the DVD’s come out email them a $10 off coupon for the Blu-Ray DvD. They already paid you so they proved that they enjoy your product. if you treat your consumer with dignity they will gladly pay later as well, but at least give them a small break.

  • Anonymous

    Let my purchase a season pass just for GoT on HBOgo and I will be happy.

  • Anonymous

    Mix this with a rebate coupon that can be used to buy the DvD/Blu-ray release and you have my money. Charge $15 for the season, but give a $10 rebate to buy the home release. Smart marketing, gets your consumer to trust you, and hurts piracy.

  • Marina Rice

    I will happily, happily pay for game of thrones. What I can’t stand is HBO’s attitude that its some sort of exclusive club for fancy people. Do they even realize how much money they could make by making each episode available on itunes or an equivalent?

  • Anonymous

    They do put the individual episodes up on iTunes, but I believe they don’t do so until the DVD/Blu-Ray box set is out. I think they would see more of a difference if they put the individual episodes up, say, the day after they aired during the actual season.

    In the era of the internet, people don’t want to have to dance wildly around spoilers for months and months until the boxed set comes out. They want to watch it on the same night (via HBOgo), or the day after (via Amazon VoD, or iTunes, or Hulu Plus or some equivalent). :/

  • Anonymous

    HBO knows that if they released DVDs immediately following the conclusion of a season they would only be encouraging people not to purchase the station. It’s a business decision, and a smart one for a pay channel that relies heavily on subscriptions. Yeah, it sucks to have to wait so long, but that’s the trade off if you don’t want to shell out for HBO (and if you don’t have access to the station yet there isn’t enough local support for adding it).

  • Marina Rice

    I actually didn’t even know they’d relented and put them up on itunes at all!

    But its still rough waiting for the DVD release- HBO puts things out almost a year later. Maybe slightly under, but I’m pretty sure season 2 is only just now cropping up.

    That’s a lot of time to ask people to wait.

  • Kathryn

    But a year, almost? I can’t see it hurting too much if they brought it forward a little.

  • Kathryn

    About 9 months after a show ends, I think? GoT ends each season in May, right? (March-April-May?), then it’s a month or so before the next season that it comes out.

    That’s still a very long time relative to almost everyone else.

  • Anonymous

    I think they prefer to use the DVD release as a promotional tool for the upcoming season. Or maybe the other way around, using the excitement of the upcoming season to get people to buy the DVDs. In any case, the current cable model can last but only so much longer; eventually the technology and the economics will dictate that service providers and content providers go a la carte. However, I’m not sure I see them offering the ability to purchase individual shows for streaming anytime soon. HBO and others will maintain that their product is the entirety of their lineup, and not individual shows.

  • Anonymous

    They don’t need to release the DVDs immediately; they just need to make it possible for people who don’t have cable to watch episodes online. Put it on iTunes or something.

    I’m in Canada, and am not allowed to get HBO Online unless I buy regular HBO as well. And I don’t have cable, so buying HBO would be pointless. And I don’t watch anything else on HBO anyway, and am not interested in doing so. I buy the DVDs, but HBO really hasn’t given me any options for watching Season 3.

  • SmokeyPSD

    Here here

  • Erin W

    Technology already has solved the piracy issue. That content providers are unwilling to make use of these channels is the real problem.

  • Raesene

    Piracy of TV shows exists primarily because people don’t want to sign up for expensive cable connections just to get one show and more importantly they don’t want to wait months to see their favourite shows. Game of Thrones is only shown in Australia on Pay TV and even if you did subscribe you’d have to wait months for it to be shown. Or you could wait for the DVD release which is currently $60+ in JB HiFi.

    So if the choice is;

    1) Subscribe to pay TV on a contract that will cost you $639 for 12mnth contract + $75 installation. Watch show when they want to screen it which could be months after the US screen date.

    2) Wait months, buy the DVD for around $60-80 and get an inferior copy on a disk that can’t be copied, backed up, or replaced. Watch it when you want.

    3) Download the show illegally on the day of release. Get a superior copy that can be played on multiple devices or streamed to your TV.

    Which one are people going to choose. Well 400,000+ Australians chose option 3…
    The obvious solution is to make a portable, high quality downloadable copy available very soon after the air date and charge a reasonable fee, say as much as $2 per episode and it would sell millions, perhaps even 10s of millions of copies of each episode.

  • Lisa Still Smouldering

    Problem remaining-the old business model of television needing sponsors to pay for their programming still exists, and is alive and well for almost all channels except the pay ones (HBO, CInemax, etc.) If the Netflix shows, and others with that business model, do well then it may be reevaluated.

    Then of course the problem becomes-how do companies make up for ‘lost revenues’ when they can’t advertise on television? (Im still not convinced the incoming money they can directly trace back to TV commercials is significant enough to justify the millions spent advertising, but maybe thats just me….)