HBO Goes After Illegal Game of Thrones Downloaders—and One Brooklyn Bar

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Game of Thrones is the most pirated television show online—a fact that was underscored by the leaking of the start of the current season last week. HBO is taking steps to crack down on it, including reportedly going after people who watch pirated episodes, and targeting one bar in Brooklyn.

GoT saw its first four episodes of Season 5 leaked to illegal online torrent sites, one day ahead of the premiere of the season last Sunday. Variety reported that just hours after the episodes became accessible, they had been downloaded by up to 778,985 people worldwide, according to piracy-tracking firm Excipio.

Apparently, the leak came from the DVDs that HBO sends to reviewers in advance of the airdate. These typically have digital watermark codes for tracking, but the leaked versions have theirs blurred out.

"Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of Game of Thrones originated from within a group approved by HBO to receive them," the company said in a statement Sunday. "We're actively assessing how this breach occurred."

Meanwhile, HBO is working with ISPs to track down the people who watched those leaked episodes, according to the Huffington Post, and it has sent thousands of warnings already. The move is "standard operating procedure,” the network said.

Further, the Village Voice reported that HBO has made a decision not to allow its content to be shown in a public setting.

Videology, in Brooklyn’s hip Williamsburg neighborhood that holds watching parties for popular series, has been ordered by HBO to stop screening the show on Sunday nights—which it has been doing for two years. Bar co-owner James Leet said that HBO told him that it has now decided, in the wake of the leak, that its content can’t be shown in a public setting.

“We’re sorry that our fans will not be able to see it in the future here,” Leet told the paper. “We know they really enjoyed it, and we’re sorry we can’t do that for them anymore.”

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