Why You Shouldn’t Download The Game Of Thrones Leaks

Why You Shouldn’t Download The Game Of Thrones Leaks

A torrent containing the first four episodes of HBO’s Game Of Thrones hit the Internet over the weekend and has already been accessed hundreds of thousands of times. Here’s why you shouldn’t join the swarm.

As it is every pre-season-launch, Game of Thrones hype is at fever pitch right now, with the first episode of Season Five being broadcast today. While preview copies of episodes will have done the rounds amongst those that HBO’s deemed worthy of early viewing — generally TV reviewers and the like — in this case hundreds of thousands of viewers got an early Christmas present with the first four episodes of ten hitting the Web over the weekend.

I’m keen on the series, but I won’t be watching it that way regardless, and I’m firmly convinced you shouldn’t either. Here’s why.

The episodes are only in standard definition quality

HBO spends a serious amount of money on Game Of Thrones, and while there are a few iffy effects along the way, it generally does show up onscreen. Unless you’re watching in SD, and that’s all you’ll reportedly get out of these torrents anyway.

Hollywood is watching

Undoubtedly heads will be rolling at HBO and hair will be being torn out, but at the same time there’s little doubt that HBO will be monitoring public torrents very closely. We’ve covered off the kinds of evidence that using BitTorrent leaves behind here, and in light of the Dallas Buyer’s Club LLC verdict, it’s not the best time to be engaging in large-scale piracy.

It’s a huge leap over the “availability” argument

One of the most common arguments put forward by pro-piracy advocates is that they pirate because content isn’t available in a timely manner here in Australia, and if only that problem were solved they’d pay for content quite happily. This isn’t just the first episode, but the first four, and as such anyone downloading them really can’t sit behind what in this case is an exceptionally feeble excuse.

It’s also a huge leap over the “price gouging” argument too

You don’t necessarily have to be happy about the price paid for access to Game Of Thrones. I’m personally a bit miffed that I can’t order it through iTunes, as was an option prior to season four. Realistically, the leaking of these four episodes won’t sink HBO as a commercial entity either, but ultimately as the producers of this content, it’s fair that it’s the company that sets the asking price. There’s no justification that says “free” is the right price here unless HBO decides that this should be so — or at least there shouldn’t be unless you were never going to pay in the first place, in which case your argument was always a hollow one.

There are all sorts of ways to legitimately access Game Of Thrones

Foxtel is simulcasting Game Of Thrones, and while you may have your own position on Mr Murdoch’s subscription TV empire, the fact that it drops the asking price when Game Of Thrones seasons roll around isn’t coincidental in any way. The price you pay there is part of a deal between Foxtel and HBO, and it’s pretty much HBO calling the tune here. Game Of Thrones isn’t on Presto, and from what Foxtel’s told me, that’s part of an agreement that HBO insisted on. It won’t be on the cheaper Presto platform at all.

That leaves you with Foxtel Play, which would run to $90 across all ten episodes, or $9 per episode if that was all you wanted to watch. $90 for ten hours of TV — or around five movies “worth” in timing terms — isn’t horrifically bad value. Watch literally anything else over those three months and you’re very quickly “ahead” in value terms.

Even leaving that aside, it’s not the only way to actually pay for Game Of Thrones, as Chris discussed at some length last week in his guide to The Cheapest Ways To Watch Game Of Thrones Season 5 In Australia. Buy the Blu-Rays, sneak onto HBO Now, do whatever you like. But stating that it’s “too expensive” in this case is an exceptionally weak argument.

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  • Hey, I was going to download it from torrents anyway, if it was available in HD, I’d grab it now and be done with it. Telling people to watch it on Foxtel is just ridiculous, Foxtel is gouging the crap out of it’s customers, and needs to bring itself into line with the competition.

    • They don’t have competitors, that’s why they’re gouging the crap out of their customers.

      • I was under the impression that “Stan”, “Netflix”, “Quickflix” etc, were the competition!

        • Realistically, at the end of the day, Foxtel have no competition as long as you pretty much need foxtel to watch Sport in Australia. Hell I think my NRL team might get two goddamn FTA games this season in glorious SD? Not that it makes me pay for foxtel, I’ve just stopped watching the NRL.

          • You can find some streams online if you want to watch them. Just sayin’ 😉 Same with the AFL, Formula 1 and just about any other sport you can think of.

          • You can find stream for almost any and all sports, but quality is a massive issue.

  • SD? Ew. Pass. Wait for the HD torrents. Nothing’s that urgent. You might as well be watching cam versions of movies. 😛

  • “Game Of Thrones isn’t on Presto, and from what Foxtel’s told me, that’s part of an agreement that HBO insisted on.”

    So there was an opportunity to provide GoT at a reasonable cost and on demand but then both parties agreed to keep the show on the expensive option and continue the cycle of screwing Australians over. Keep that wheel turning boys.

    Hopefully next year Stan, Netflix or some other provider will pick the rights up and then we will see pirating drop dramatically. Until this, welcome to another three months of news articles complaining about how Australians are the biggest pirates.

    • Not sure I see the logic. HBO will still hold the rights, and they’re the ones who have stated that they don’t want it on streaming services (aside from their own, linked from Chris’ articles). Given the lack of HBO content on Netflix, even in the US, it’s a stretch to hope that HBO stuff will ever appear there. Ultimately, it’s HBO’s content to do with as it wishes, no?

      • I agree it’s their content to do with what they want, but that’s part of the larger issue as well. HBO, Foxtel, etc need to understand why people are pirating in the first place. Until they review their business model how can they expect people to change their media consumption habits? We are living in a digital age where we can access anything we want, when we want……with the exception of movies/TV shows because they still think it’s the 1950’s.

        I think it was the last GoT season you could access the episodes on both iTunes and Google Play a short time after the initial airing with Foxtel. This provided choice for consumers and at an alright price. There’s been no mention of that option this year as far as I’m aware?

        • “Until they review their business model how can they expect people to change their media consumption habits?”

          Sorry, is that a serious point you’re trying to make?

  • I’d say without a shadow of a doubt that this was intentional. Not a full season, only SD quality, right after the Dallas Buyer’s Club decision? Someone’s fishing for people to blackmail.

    • The dallas buyers club decision affects only Australia. This was leaked to the entire world.

      The game of thrones season premiere is the most anticipated show of the year. Leaking it ahead of release to try and catch pirates in a relatively small market where you’ve already sold distribution rights would be a very silly decision.

  • So you tell people not to download the leaked episodes because they are in SD. But later you tell people to watch them on Foxtel Play which is in SD. I don’t get your logic there. Unless they are not in 16:9, which I doubt.

    • Essentially I was running down the reasons why not, but yes, you’re right. The thing is that there’s multiple ways to access Thrones, linked in Chris’ piece which I wasn’t going to rewrite for the sake of it, that still cross the “actually paying for content” barrier neatly.

  • It’s a huge leap over the “availability” argument

    One of the most common arguments put forward by pro-piracy advocates is that they pirate because content isn’t available in a timely manner here in Australia, and if only that problem were solved they’d pay for content quite happily. This isn’t just the first episode, but the first four, and as such anyone downloading them really can’t sit behind what in this case is an exceptionally feeble excuse.

    I’m not quite following this logic.

    The first four episodes are available right now, to download. It’ll be several weeks before the latter episodes air here. So you could wait several weeks, or…you could watch them now. You’re saying it’s a feeble excuse but this is exactly the reason why some people choose to illegally download. This really isn’t any different to anything else that gets a delayed airing here in Australia (except for the fact these episodes were leaked).

    This argument isn’t making any sense.

    • They’re being simulcast today. The common argument as stated, is that people pirate *because they’re delayed for Australian broadcast*. This isn’t the case in any way whatsoever in this instance.

      Now, if this leak was a deliberate HBO ploy, then yes, you’d have a point. But otherwise you don’t.

      • Simulcast where?

        As far as I know, only the first episode is due to be shown today. They aren’t showing all four episodes back to back. The rest of the first four episodes will be shown over the coming weeks.

        So my point still stands. You can wait until May 3rd to watch episode four, or you could watch it now.

        Yes, this was leaked ahead of time, before the US even gets to see these episodes, in fact. This doesn’t change the fact that you can view the content early before it screens locally. Do you think piraters care if the content has been broadcast in the US first? No. All they care about is being able to view the content before it screens locally.

        Note that I don’t even watch GoT, so I’m not the slightest bit interested in downloading it, I’m just trying to understand the argument.

    • No, I get this argument. One of the big issues we have in the TV/movie industry is that a lot of American-produced content is held hostage to the concept of American primacy. It’s not the best-kept secret, but there is actually an argument in the US that the US should see stuff first. Even if it’s delivered over the internet, where there’s no reason for them to, save for establishing dominance and feeling like they’re better than everyone else.

      It’s this attitude of delaying things by days to months in Australia that a lot of people pirate to equalize (amongst other motivators – there are many).

      But by downloading a leak well before it’s meant to be released even in the US, you’re not equalizing an unfair restriction imposed on Australians because we weren’t so blessed by GOD ALMIGHTY as to be God’s self-declared favourite children: Americans. You’re exploiting a mistake and getting it earlier even than law-abiding US viewers, by several weeks. That’s a pretty dramatic and honestly unfair over-correction.

  • Oh, Alex, you missed one reason.
    (One that pirates might actually care about, instead of anything that involves being sympathetic and fair to an industry that has geared itself institutionally to fuck us.)

    If you watch the leaked episodes now, you won’t have any more episodes to watch for another month.
    How’s your self-control regarding pacing? It’s a lot easier to not binge on the cheesecake in the fridge if you don’t put it in the fridge in the first place.

  • Is there anywhere that offers legit HD downloads that are available at the same time as the streams? Since I live in Australia my internet connection is nowhere near capable of streaming HD, let alone streaming anything at all so those aren’t really an option for me and I can’t get regular Foxtel in my apartment (and I don’t feel like selling organs to afford it either)

      • I’m on iiNet, so close enough to dial up at any time I’m not at work at the moment

        • I briefly remember hearing about iiNet post-Netflix … I didn’t read too much into it, but from the outside it looked like “iiNet offers free Netflix, blames Telstra for speed” :/

          but then i’m one of the privileged few with Telstra’s 100mbit cable so when people complain of slow speeds my trollface gets equipped.

    • This is exactly what I want and would pay for. No-one cares to take my money though. Instead the only legal option I have is SD streaming, over a internet connection that can barely sustain that right now (thanks iiNet!), for which I’ll pay $30 a month for (after already paying $20 a month for 2 other streaming services)….

      I really don’t think they’re even trying to compete with Bittorrent here. It’s just some token effort so they bloggers can get on their high horses and proclaim that everyone who pirates it now has no excuse any more.

  • It’s a trap! A month from now the headline on lifehacker will be HBO goes to high court to collect names/addresses of GOT downloaders.

  • So, as of 7:00pm tonight (the 13th of April, the date GoT premiers), you can’t actually use the Foxtel website to sign up to Foxtel Play…. There’s some problem with this javascript on their website…. Guess I won’t be giving them my money then!

  • I pay $6.50 to watch an entire movie at the cinema. There is no way I will ever pay $9 for a single hour long episode. That said, I don’t get why you’d want to download episodes 2-4, after you watch them you’l have to wait WEEKS till more come out.

  • GOT is too hyped, the first 4 episides sucked so bad I can’t believe its not illegal to pander that crap. Like watching daytime soap drama or Burke’s backyard, nothing HAPPENED and it just goes on like that episode after episode. I think it was leaked out of disgust and contempt at the scam taking place.

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