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  1. New Game of Thrones Episode Leaks Online Early The latest episode of Game of Thrones has leaked online several hours before its official premiere. The leak comes from the German version of Amazon Prime, where it was put online early. Since then it's been widely shared on various pirate sites. Several hours before its official premiere, the second episode of the latest Game of Thrones season is already widely available on torrent and streaming sites. According to reports from several viewers, the German version of Amazon Prime accidentally made the episode available on the platform a few hours ago. Apparently, the second episode of the season simply started playing after the first one finished. After this mistake, it didn’t take long before someone ripped the show, and soon after many links to pirated copies started to appear on the usual torrent and streaming sites. This isn’t the first time that a Game of Thrones episode has been released early. The popular HBO series has a long history of leaks. The most prominent one dates back to 2015 when the first four episodesleaked from a promotional screener. In 2017 a Game of Thrones episode leakedwith a “Star India” watermark. This eventually led to the arrests of four people. Today’s leak appears to be a mistake by Amazon, but the result is ultimately the same. Pirates will get an early viewing of the latest episode, before those who pay, and spoilers are being widely shared online. For several years in a row Game of Thrones has been the most pirated TV-show, and this year the interest is overwhelming once again. Data published by piracy tracking company MUSO earlier this week showed that the first episode of this season was pirated 54 million times in just one day. Source
  2. Fake News is Coming? Game of Thrones Pirates Are Going to Jail When a new Game of Thrones season is about to land, major news publications everywhere tend to come up with something exciting. But what if there's no obvious angle? Easy! Come up with a sensational headline claiming that Game of Thrones downloaders are going to jail but don't offer a single shred of evidence to back it up. Then sit back, and wait for the clicks. In case anyone hadn’t noticed, a new series of Game of Thrones started last week. That meant hundreds of articles about the show, especially since this is probably its last hurrah. We too did our bit, writing earlier this week how the first episode in the series had resulted in a flood of downloads via torrent sites. We’ve been writing about the show in this context for years, so the latest installment probably didn’t come as a surprise. What will have come as a surprise, to the people who had the misfortune to read it, was an article published on the Daily Mail’s site. As is customary, the piece was placed to the left of a sidebar of clickable articles focusing on the physical attributes of mainly female celebrities in various states of undress. The piece about Game of Thrones admittedly featured less flesh but sought to be just as outrageous. With a headline like the one above, this was clearly going to be a knockout story. With huge numbers of Aussies downloading Game of Thrones every week, the prospect of filling the nation’s jails with pirates must have been thought through well in advance by the nation’s authorities. So who in government had issued the stark warning? Well, if you’re hoping to find the answer in the article, you can forget it. The piece uses the words ‘jailed’ or ‘jail’ several times, yet not once does it put any more meat on the bones of the headline claim that Game of Thrones downloaders could be seeing the inside of a cell. It does cite a 7news.com.au report which claims that people “could pay a big price down the line” for pirating the show. However, we’ve been through that article with a fine tooth comb looking for any references to criminal prosecutions of downloaders by Australian authorities, and came up with absolutely nothing. That leaves us with a few possibilities. Perhaps the Daily Mail has a source inside the government that supplied the information that warranted a SHOCKING headline but asked the paper to back it up with zero details just to keep everyone on their toes. To rule that out, TorrentFreak contacted the government, to see if any statement had been made to back up the claims detailed above, specifically concerning the claim that downloaders of Game of Thrones could be thrown in jail. The Department of Communications and the Arts responded quickly. “No announcement has been made by government regarding criminal prosecution for breach of copyright law,” the team said. “Copyright owners have a number of exclusive rights, including the right to control the reproduction of their material and the right to communicate that material to the public, which includes uploading, posting or downloading content online. “A person might infringe the exclusive rights of the copyright owner of ‘Game of Thrones’ if they upload, stream, download or share unauthorized copies of the program.” Escalating the downloading of a Game of Thrones episode to a criminal offense would make huge headlines anywhere. However, apart from this single piece in the Daily Mail, no other publication has chosen to republish this unsourced claim as fact. That in itself is telling. That leaves us with another option, that there’s a secret industry source, that said (off the record, mind you) that anyone downloading Game of Thrones could be subject to incarceration. And this is where things get a bit weird. “Creative Content Australia executive director Lori Flekser told 7 News the crackdown wasn’t just about stopping revenue loss,” the Daily Mail’s original piece read. It didn’t attribute the ‘jail’ claims to Flekser, but the implication was there. We doubted that the anti-piracy group would’ve made such a comment, so we checked with Flekser herself. “You are absolutely correct – this is not something I said or endorse,” Flekser told us. “Prosecution has occurred where people have profited from the sale of pirated content, such as the reference in that article to the 2017 case of Sydney man Haidar Majid Salam Al Baghdadi who was convicted for his role in the selling of unauthorized access to Foxtel services.” After Flekser emailed her comments to TF, we checked the Daily Mail article against an indexed copy from the date it was originally published. Interestingly, the publication had removed all references to Flekser but maintained the line that Game of Thrones pirates could be put in jail. Well, let’s go along with the ‘jail’ charade and consider the feasibility of that. In Victoria, which covers Melbourne, for example, it costs in excess of AUS$328.00 per day to lock someone up. Last year, Australia had around 42,000 prisoners in total and according to figures published earlier this week, around a million Aussies downloaded the first episode of the new Game of Thrones series – in a day. If the authorities decided to criminalize downloaders and put even 5% of these people in jail, Australia’s judicial system – if not the whole country – would be in crisis. Furthermore, if only a tiny proportion of offenders went to jail (let’s say a modest five people), there would be a public outcry, especially when one considers that shoplifting goods up to the value of AUS$600 is often dealt with via an on-the-spot fine resulting in no criminal record. That presents an uncomfortable third option, that this is a classic and pretty blatant example of fake news. Or, at the very least, an outrageous headline drawing traffic to an article that fails to come up with the goods or back itself up in any way. Make no mistake, pirating TV shows is illegal in Australia and those also sharing them with others (using BitTorrent, for example) could find themselves having to explain their actions in court in a civil case. Thus far, however, there has been very little sign of that practice making a comeback in the country. There are also criminal implications for those who commit infringement on a commercial scale, as Flekser told us. But downloading an episode of Game of Thrones doesn’t seem to fit that description for an individual, even if a million Aussies did it collectively this week. Of course, that’s much less interesting than “everyone’s going to prison”, so let’s find a ridiculous angle and mislead the public instead. Fake news is coming? It’s already arrived. Source
  3. All the pieces are moving into place in preparation for the coming big showdown. Enlarge / Jon Snow (Kit Harington) brings Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) home to meet the family at Winterfell. HBO Winter is here! The first episode of the hotly anticipated final season of HBO's Game of Thrones aired Sunday night, and it proved a solid, if not scintillating showing. There were reunions galore, a bit of sniping and tension, a nifty new opening credits sequence, and the dragons (the true stars at this point) got plenty of screen time. (Spoilers for first seven seasons; mild spoilers for last night's episode.) Based on George R.R. Martin's best-selling epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, HBO's Game of Thrones long ago outpaced the novels in terms of plot, although the author had some early input in shaping the TV series' broad narrative arc. We've seen plenty of sex, blood, and horrifying death over the course of seven seasons, and now it's time for the endgame. This being George R.R. Martin, there's no guarantee of a happy ending. It's a complicated show with a massive cast, even after killing off so many major characters to clear the board a bit. When we last left off, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) had improbably outlasted all rivals (including her own children) and ascended to the Iron Throne, with the help of her own Doctor Frankenstein, Qyburn (Anton Lesser). Her younger brother, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), had joined forces with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), who also won the loyalty of Stark family bastard and new King in the North Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Dany came to Westeros to battle Cersei for the Iron Throne but is convinced to call a truce by Jon, who proves that the White Walkers (led by the Night King) and their undead zombies, the wights, (a) exist, and (b) are preparing to conquer Westeros and wipe out the living once and for all. The Stark family has regained its ancestral home of Winterfell, with Sansa (Sophie Turner) in charge in Jon's absence, aided by her sister-turned-faceless-assassin Arya (Maisie Williams). Their only surviving brother, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), is now a powerful seer called the Three-Eyed Raven, although his exact role in the endgame is still unclear. (He spends most of his time looking dreamily solemn and occasionally makes portentous observations.) We know from earlier teasers that Dany and Jon come to Winterfell, and Sansa reluctantly cedes Winterfell to her, since Jon had "bent the knee" and declared his loyalty to the Mother of Dragons. Dany also lost one of her dragons to the Night King, then later got it on with Jon Snow, unaware that he is, in fact, a legitimate Targaryen by birth. (The incest here is less relevant than what this means for her claim to the throne—though the incest also makes their relationship somewhat more traditional for the Targaryen family.) In the final scene of last season, the Night King took down the great wall of ice that has protected Westeros for centuries. Things are looking very bad for the human race indeed. The first full trailer dropped last month, giving us brief glimpses of all the surviving characters. Everyone is gearing up to take on the Night King and his ice zombie hordes—everyone except Cersei, that is, whose genius plan is to wait it out and let her enemy's forces be depleted (if not wiped out entirely). That means a whole lot of people are converging on Winterfell, starting with Jon and Dany, accompanied by her Unsullied and Dothraki armies—and remaining two dragons, of course. It's a grim homecoming for Jon in one respect, since Northerners don't trust outsiders and resent their king for bending the knee to a foreign queen and relinquishing his shiny new crown. The emotional payoff for viewers is all the reunions that inevitably take place at Winterfell. Jon hasn't seen Bran or Arya since the first season. Arya is pleased to see Gendry (Joe Dempsie) still alive—and surprised to see her frenemy, the Hound (Rory McCann), still breathing, seeing as she last left him for dead. Tyrion hasn't seen his ex-wife Sansa since the Purple Wedding, when she fled and he wound up on trial for a murder he didn't commit. But not all the reunions are happy ones, as one might expect when former adversaries must reluctantly join forces to defeat a common threat. As always, the dragons steal the show, and the sight of them soaring over a snowy Winterfell is glorious. "What do they eat?" Sansa snippily asks Dany, after complaining that she never expected to have to provide for so many extra mouths. "Whatever they want," Dany responds. Game of Thrones has always had its share of placeholder episodes, where things advance incrementally and very little of major import happens. Such episodes serve a purpose in the overall narrative arc, shuttling characters around and setting up the relationships and conflict that make the big set pieces all the more powerful. This isn't quite one of those kinds of episodes, since rather a lot happens in just under an hour. But the big fireworks are still to come with the upcoming Battle of Winterfell, rumored to be the most massive staged battle sequence of the series. We should expect to see at least some of the fan favorites fall, and fairly early in this final season. So taking the time to relish some bittersweet reunions before all hell breaks loose seems like a fitting opening salvo. Source: Winter is here: Humans rally as Night King advances on GoT S8 debut episode (Ars Technica) Poster's note: The original article contains an image slideshhow. To view it, please visit the link above.
  4. Physicist Rebecca Thompson weighs in on all your burning science questions for GoT. Enlarge / You know nothing, Jon Snow—like, maybe wear a hat when conditions are freezing in the North. Even if it musses up your luscious locks. HBO Warning: This story contains some mild spoilers from the first seven seasons of Game of Thrones. The world of Game of Thrones may be fictional, but that doesn't stop its fans from heatedly arguing about all the possible underlying science, because nerd-gassing about one's favorite science fiction is a time-honored tradition. Just how hot is dragon's breath? Is there a real-world equivalent of wildfire? What's the best and worst way to die? And how fast would Gendry have to run back to the wall to send a raven to King's Landing requesting help? These and other scintillating topics are discussed in a forthcoming book by physicist (and uber-fan) Rebecca Thompson, . The book comes out in October from MIT Press, but as we gear up for the premiere of the final season Sunday night, Thompson graciously gave us a sneak preview into some of the burning science questions she investigated. Hot fire, hot steel, and hot locks After completing her PhD, Thompson spent several years doing physics outreach for the American Physical Society, and she authors the society's popular Spectra educational comic book series. (Attendees of San Diego Comic-Con have likely seen her in costume as Spectra on the exhibit floor.) This is her first popular science book, inspired by a talk she gave to physics teachers a few years ago on the physics of dragon fire and ice walls in Game of Thrones. Scouring the many fan sites on which such things are debated at length, she found far more interesting science questions than what could fit into a single talk—it turned into a book's worth of science, in fact. Fire, Ice, and Physics covers everything from the physics of dragon fire and Valyrian steel, to the best and worst ways to die. Thompson even ponders why Jon Snow never wears a hat in freezing conditions beyond the wall—the obvious answer is that it would mess up his hair, and the author admits to being a fan of said hair. "But wearing a hat is more important than just having thick luscious hair," she said. That's because the head doesn't have much fat to insulate the body against the cold. Also, a hat would keep warm air trapped close to the head, whereas the wind would blow through Jon's unruly locks and dissipate said heat. Still, it's not any worse than not wearing gloves, per Thompson; it's a myth that the body loses most of its heat through the head. Enlarge / Viserion likely breathed hot blue fire. Even that might not be enough to bring down the wall. HBO Valyrian steel may be fictional, but there is a real-life counterpart: Damascus steel, known for its high carbon content, which made it brittle and therefore difficult to work with. The secret of how it was made has been lost to history, but a few years ago German scientists x-rayed a sample from a Damascus steel blade and found carbon nanotubes at the sharp edge. They likely formed as a natural result of the smelting process, which strengthened the steel. "When the swords were made, they were often quenched in the urine of red-headed boys," said Thompson. "The acid in the urine etched off all the other material and exposed the carbon nanotubes. While fire-breathing dragons are entirely fictional, it's still possible to analyze its properties from a scientific perspective. Dragon fire is white-hot, certainly hot enough to melt iron and steel to forge the Iron Throne. It would also be able to melt granite, which is why Harrenhal has "that melted candle look," according to Thompson. The bigger the dragon, the hotter the flame it produces. Drogon, the biggest of Daenerys' three dragons, would spew fire more than capable of melting the Red Keep at King's Landing. And what about poor Viserion, killed by the Night King and revived as an undead Ice Dragon? He breathes blue fire, and fans have hotly debated whether it burns hot or cold. Per Thompson, a cold blue fire might cause some thermal cracking in the Wall, but probably not enough to take it down entirely. For that you would need hot blue fire—and even then, it would take some time to bore through a 300-foot-wide wall. A simple flyby, as depicted in the Season 7 finale, wouldn't be sufficient (although the Night King keeps Viserion hovering in one spot of the wall for a bit). "The majority of the energy to melt ice is to break the [chemical] bonds, not to raise the temperature," said Thompson. Wildfire is a chemical weapon that plays a major role on the series. It's not water soluble, which means you can't wash it off and it floats on the surface water. It's sticky, and it burns green. The closest real-world equivalent would be napalm, which was sticky, burns on water, and burns hot enough to melt steel and stone, according to Thompson. Another real-world contender is the "Greek fire" used by the Byzantine Empire. It was fairly stable, could burn on water, and could only be extinguished with vinegar or sand. It likely contained pine tar, sulphur, and either saltpeter or quick lime, among other ingredients. It had all the elements of wildfire except one: wildfire burns green. "The one piece that is hard to reproduce is the green fire, because for that you need certain elements, like copper," she said. Enlarge / Viserys gets his golden crown, and it's actually a most merciful death. HBO Death decoded Given the high body count on Game of Thrones, Thompson naturally had to include a chapter on the science of the many different ways to die on the show. For instance, Ned Stark may have experienced a most unjust death at the order of King Joffrey way back in season 1, but beheading is actually one of the more merciful deaths. That said, Ned may well have remained conscious for a good ten seconds after losing his head, based on a study in the Netherlands. The scientist implanted electrodes in the heads of rats and beheaded them using tiny guillotines, and measured how long brain activity continued to register afterward. Then they extrapolated that to humans to arrive at the ten second estimate. The death of Dany's weaselly brother, Viserys, in season 1 would be an even faster way to die. Recall that Khal Drogo melted down some golden medallions and poured the molten gold over the aspiring king's head. Would Viserys have died of shock, or suffocation? Neither, it seems; he would have died from a boiling brain. Thompson researched the thermal conductivity of bone and found it conducts heat quite well. Molten gold has a temperature of around 1947 degrees F. "If you assume the brain is mostly water (73 percent), his brain would boil extremely quickly," she said—in about 3.5 seconds. "He would probably never even feel the heat. If you consider what would be the most merciful death on the show, it would absolutely be the Golden Crown." By far the most agonizing death was that suffered by poor Shireen Baratheon in season 5—a death so horrible that Thompson had a difficult time even writing about it. The most merciful way to burn someone at the stake is to pile up green wood in such a way as to enclose the victim, so that they die from smoke inhalation fairly quickly. In the case of Shireen, the wood was stacked on a pallet at her feet, burning her from the bottom up and ensuring she was conscious for most of her agonizing death. It could have taken as long as 30 minutes for her to die. So Melisandre lied when she told a frightened Shireen, "It will all be over soon." Enlarge / Poor Princess Shireen Baratheon suffered one of the most agonizing deaths. HBO Another means of slow, painful death would be the fictional Manticore poison on the tip of Oberyn's spear when he bested the Mountain (at least until he started monologuing). It would likely be a combination of two different actual poisons: the necrotizing venom of a brown recluse spider, for instance, paired with the slow-acting venom of a scorpion bite, a neurotoxin that targets the central nervous system, paralyzing and ultimately killing the prey. A fictional beast that produced a venom capable of doing both would make for a very impressive poison indeed. As for Oberyn's horrifying death at the hands of a mortally wounded Mountain, Thompson found that it takes about 538 pounds of force to crush a human skull. Not even the Mountain could have produced that much force, even leaning on Oberyn with all his weight. Her source for this information was a study conducted for manufacturers of bicycle helmets that involved filling cadaver skulls with goo to simulate the human brain and putting the skulls in a vise to see how much force was required to crush them. (As an avid triathlete, Thompson credits such research for keeping her safe when the inevitable accident occurs: "I'm very grateful to all the cadavers that were involved.") Travel time One of the sticking points that bothered even hardcore fans last season was just how Daenerys could have gotten all the way from King's Landing to north of the Wall in time to save Jon Snow and his merry band of wight hunters from the Night King's army. "We spent all of season 2 just traveling to King's Landing," said Thompson. So she sat down and crunched the numbers on how fast Gendry would have to run to get back to the wall; how fast a raven could fly to King's Landing to deliver a message to Daenerys; and how long it would take Dany and her dragons to fly back to the north to save the hunting party. Enlarge / Physicist Rebecca Thompson poses with her own baby dragon. Rebecca Thompson/MIT press Thompson had to make certain assumptions, of course, but assuming that Westeros is roughly the size England, it's doable. Granted, Gendry would have to be running a marathon, averaging an eight-minute mile. The lake had refrozen by the time Daenerys arrives, which her calculations showed would take a couple of days—sufficient time for a raven to get to King's Landing and the dragons to fly back up north. "So it wasn't that bad if you assume everyone was moving as fast as possible," she said. "And yes, I did make the obligatory reference to the air speed velocity of an unladen sparrow." The general rule of thumb when working science into fiction is that you want just enough realistic science to keep people from being pulled out of the story by niggling questions. "Here, it's not that the science is bad, but it's something that pulls people out of the story anyway," said Thompson. "They're probably not going to sit down and do the math to see that it's reasonable." So what is Thompson most looking forward to in the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones? She hopes that Drogon will level the Red Keep with his dragon fire, because she's curious how it will be depicted on the show. "Granite is a mixture of several different kinds of rock, different crystals," she said. "Are they going to have it run like molten lava, or crack and crumble?" The Red Keep might end up looking like Harrenhal. "Personally I think keeping it scientifically correct would be visually stunning," said Thompson. Source: Who had the most merciful death on Game of Thrones? Science has an answer (Ars Technica)
  5. Game of Thrones Most Popular TV Show to Push ‘Pirate’ Malware Game of Thrones is widely known as the most pirated TV-show in history. That's quite an achievement, but one that comes with a downside for the unauthorized audience. Research from Kaspersky reveals that the popular TV-show is also used by scammers as a prime payload for malware. In recent years copyright holders have been rather concerned with the health of pirates’ computers. They regularly highlight reports which show that pirate sites are rife with malware and even alert potential pirates-to-be about the dangers of these sites. While some of these claims are exaggerated, there is no denying that malware is spread through pirate sites. On torrent sites, this is usually done in the form of fake releases uploaded by malware peddlers, who disguise themselves as legitimate uploaders. While the .torrent files and the sites are not the problem, the actual downloads can include all sorts of nastiness. This problem isn’t new. We have highlighted it repeatedly over the years, going back more than a decade in some cases. Although it’s been hard to quantify the problem, a new report from Kaspersky Lab adds some intriguing context to the phenomenon. The cybersecurity company and anti-virus provider decided to take a closer look at how scammers use popular TV shows to lure victims. Are some shows more frequently used than others, for example, and which ones are most successful in delivering their payload? “Our goal was to see which TV series were the most popular with the malware pushers and to take a closer look at what kind of threats are distributed that way,” Kaspersky writes. The research provides a snapshot of how malware spreads through downloads of 31 popular TV shows. Kaspersky ran these titles against its in-house database of malware encounters, to see how often the TV-shows were linked to malware. The results show that last year, 126,340 users were attacked by malicious payloads that could be linked to (fake) pirated copies of popular TV-shows. The total number of recorded attacks among all users was 451,636. That translates to little under 1,000 malware attacks per day. The 2018 numbers are a significant decrease compared to the year before when 188,769 users were attacked. According to Kaspersky, this drop is in line with a decrease in the overall prevalence of malware attacks in other areas. Torrent sites are losing traffic slowly as well, which may play a role too. While the number of malware attacks linked to popular TV-shows is sizable, it’s worth keeping in mind that these originate from uploads by scammers. These uploads are usually swiftly removed from well-moderated torrent sites but can clearly survive longer on other indexes. Looking at the individual show titles, Kaspersky found that Game of Thrones accounted for 17% of all user attacks in the sample. This is quite an achievement since there were no new episodes released in 2018. The number of total attacks and unique malware samples were also the highest for Game of Thrones. “Of all the TV series analyzed, Game of Thrones had the greatest number of users attacked by malware of the same name – 20,934. It tried to infect users 129,819 times, and the total number of Game of Thrones-themed malware files in our threat collection is 9,986. “This makes the show an unmatched leader in popularity not just among users but also among cybercriminals looking for the most effective way to distribute malware,” Kaspersky adds. Top 10 TV shows used as a disguise for malware in 2018 (credit Kaspersky) The list of top 10 most popular ‘malware’ TV shows is completed by other popular titles such as The Walking Dead, Arrow, and Suits. These are familiar names in our yearly list of most pirated TV-shows, which makes sense, as scammers seek out the most sought after releases. A more detailed look at the episodes within a season further shows that the premiere and season finale are the most likely to be infected. As such, they also target the most users. “The common theme we were able to spot was that the first and last episodes were used as a disguise for malware each season. Also, the titles of the opening and closing episodes of each season were used the most actively to hide malware compared to other episodes,” Kaspersky writes. GoT: number of infected files and unique users attacked in seasons 1, 6 and 7 (credit Kaspersky) While Game of Thrones is the uncrowned king of torrent related malware, American Horror Story also deserves a mention. Of all the researched TV-shows, this show was the most effective, as it hit an average of three users per infected release. Finally, Kaspersky reports that “Not-a-virus:Downloader” and “Not-a-virus:AdWare” are the most common threats which are shared TV show content. The most popular ‘dangerous’ malware was the Trojan category. With the final season of Game of Thrones coming up later this month, Kaspersky’s findings should serve as a “stark” warning to pirates. The anti-virus vendor notes that using legitimate sites is the best option to avoid trouble. Other tips include checking the extension of a downloaded file, avoiding suspicious links that promise early releases, and checking the comments before downloading a torrent. Source
  6. Hackers have stolen proprietary information from the media giant HBO. The leak includes a confidential outline for the fourth episode of the current Game of Thrones season, and episodes of Ballers, Barry, Insecure, and Room 104 are among the loot. The Game of Thrones leak doesn't include the full episode, but there are plenty of spoilers (none are mentioned in this article). It appears that yet another large media outlet has fallen victim to a high-profile hack. After Sony and, indirectly, Netflix, hackers have now compromised the network of the American cable and television network HBO. Sunday evening a mysterious email was sent to reporters, announcing the prominent breach. “Hi to all mankind. The greatest leak of cyber space era is happening. What’s its name? Oh I forget to tell. Its HBO and Game of Thrones……!!!!!!” the email read. While several reports were published, the first by Entertainment Weekly, the actual leaked files were not widely available on the usual pirate sites. However, a few hours ago a website appeared online that claims to hold the ‘treasure trove.’ Winter-leak.com, a reference to the famous Game of Thrones “Winter is Coming” phrase, does indeed list several files that appear to come from HBO. “In a complicate operation, we successfully penetrated in to the HBO Internal Network, Emails, technical platforms, and database and got precious and confidential stuff that blaze your eyes,” the hacker, or hackers write on their website. The hackers claim to have 1.5 terabytes of data from the company. So far, previously unreleased episodes of Ballers, Barry, Insecure and Room 104 are featured on the site. However, there are also three separate archives listed, with over a terabyte of data. Most prominent, perhaps, is a preliminary outline of the fourth episode of the current Game of Thrones season, which will air this coming Sunday. At TorrentFreak, we always strive to find proof for reported leaks, and from what we’ve seen and gathered, it does indeed appear to be the real deal. The Game of Thrones information, for example, lists a preliminary outline of the fourth episode of season 7, including many spoilers. As can be seen below, the outline itself is watermarked by the hackers, with the tagline “HBO is falling.” Perhaps even more unusual, the leak also includes a video, featuring Game of Thrones images, the leaders, and a textual outline of the episode. As with the outline, the videos are available for the third and fourth episode of season 7. HBO’s chairman and CEO, Richard Plepler, has confirmed that the company’s infrastructure was breached, but didn’t mention what information was accessed. He sent an email to employees a few hours ago, informing them about the “cyber incident.” “As most of you have probably heard by now, there has been a cyber incident directed at the company which has resulted in some stolen proprietary information, including some of our programming,” he wrote. “Any intrusion of this nature is obviously disruptive, unsettling, and disturbing for all of us. I can assure you that senior leadership and our extraordinary technology team, along with outside experts, are working round the clock to protect our collective interests.” The full contents of the leaks have yet to be analyzed. It’s doubtful that any Game of Thrones episodes will leak, but there’s likely to be a lot of confidential information in the copied data, which HBO would otherwise prefer to keep to itself. HBO has already mentioned that it’s doing everything in its power to prevent the leaks from spreading any further. In addition, they are also working with law enforcement to track down the people responsible. TorrentFreak
  7. Data published by the piracy monitoring firm MUSO suggests that the season opener of Game of Thrones was pirated 90 million times. Most of the traffic was generated by unauthorized streaming services, with torrent downloads making up a small fraction of the total, less than ten percent. Last Sunday, the long-awaited seventh season of the hit series Game of Thrones aired in dozens of countries worldwide. The show has broken several piracy records over the years and, thus far, there has been plenty of interest in the latest season as well. Like every year, the torrent download figures quickly ran into the millions. However, little is known about the traffic that goes to streaming portals, which have outgrown traditional file-sharing sites in recent years. One of the main problems is that it’s impossible for outsiders to know exactly how many visitors pirate streaming services get. Traffic data for these sites are not public, which makes it difficult to put an exact figure on the number of views one particular video has. Piracy monitoring firm MUSO hasn’t shied away from this unexplored territory though and has now released some hard numbers. According to MUSO, the premiere episode of the seventh season of Game of Thrones has been pirated more than 90 million times in only three days. A massive number, which is largely driven by streaming traffic. Exactly 77,913,032 pirate views came from streaming portals, while public torrent traffic sits in second place with 8,356,382 downloads. Another 4,949,298 downloads are linked to direct download sites, while the remaining 523,109 come from private torrents. Why other platforms such as Usenet are not covered remains unexplained in the press release, but without these the total is already quite substantial, to say the least. MUSO reports that most pirate traffic comes from the United States, with 15.1 million unauthorized downloads and streams. The United Kingdom follows in second place with 6.2 million, before Germany, India, and Indonesia, with between 4 and 5 million each. Andy Chatterley, MUSO’s CEO and Co-Founder, notes that the results may come as a surprise to some industry insiders, describing them as “huge.” “There is no denying that these figures are huge, so they’re likely to raise more than a few eyebrows in the mainstream industry, but it’s in line with the sort of scale we see across piracy sites and should be looked at objectively. “What we’re seeing here isn’t just P2P torrent downloads but unauthorized streams and every type of piracy around the premiere. This is the total audience picture, which is usually unreported,” Chatterley adds. While there is no denying that the numbers are indeed huge, it would probably be better to view them as estimates. MUSO generally sources its data from SimilarWeb, which uses a sample of 200 million ‘devices’ to estimate website traffic. Website visits are then seen as “downloads,” and the sample data is extrapolated into the totals. This also explains why other types of download traffic, such as Usenet, are not included at all. These are not web-based. Similarly, the data doesn’t appear to cover all countries. Game of Thrones piracy is very substantial in China, for example, but in its previous reports, MUSO didn’t exclude Chinese traffic. Taking the caveats above into account, MUSO’s data could be a good estimate of the total (web) pirate traffic for the Game of Thrones premiere. This would suggest some pretty high piracy rates in some countries, but we’ve seen stranger things. — Note: TorrentFreak reached out to MUSO for further details on its methodology. The company confirmed that its data is based on traffic to 23,000 of the most-used piracy sites. The data is collected from over 200 million devices, located in over 200 countries. This appears to confirm that it is indeed SimilarWeb data. — Countries with the highest GoT piracy activity, according to MUSO: United States of America: 15,075,951 United Kingdom: 6,252,903 Germany: 4,897,280 India: 4,335,331 Indonesia: 4,286,927 Philippines: 4,189,030 Canada: 3,182,851 France: 2,881,467 Turkey: 2,802,458 Vietnam: 2,436,149 Australia: 2,241,463 Russian Federation: 2,196,799 Netherlands: 1,881,718 Brazil: 1,796,759 Malaysia: 1,737,005 TorrentFreak
  8. The season finale of Game of Thrones has set a brand new piracy record, with a quarter million people sharing a single file at the same time. During the first 12 hours roughly 1.5 million file-sharers downloaded a pirated copy of the popular show, a number that will swell to over 7.5 million during the days to come. The fourth season of Game of Thrones has been the most-viewed so far, both through official channels and among pirates. The season finale was therefore expected to break all previous records. The official U.S. ratings that just came in show that “The Children” was the most viewed season finale thus far, with 7.1 million people tuning in. In the black market the same episode did well too, setting a mind-boggling piracy record. The latest episode resulted in the largest BitTorrent swarm ever. That is, never before have so many people gathered to share a single file on the Internet. A few hours after the first torrent of the show appeared on torrent sites, the Demonii tracker reported that 254,114 people were sharing one single torrent at the same time. 190,701 were sharing a complete copy of that particular torrent while 63,413 were still downloading. The previous record was also held by Game of Thrones, with a little over 200,000 people sharing a single file. There was also quite bit of interest in higher definition releases. The most popular 720p copy was shared by 108,539 BitTorrent users simultaneously, and the most shared 1080p release had 23,922 people connected to it. Game of Thrones’ new “simultaneous” file-sharing record Data gathered by TorrentFreak further shows that, in 12 hours, the season finale has been downloaded roughly 1.5 million times. Translated into actual data, that’s close to 2,000 terabytes transferred in half a day. The download total is expected to increase to more than 7.5 million during the weeks to come and means that unless a miracle happens, Game of Thrones will be crowned the most-pirated TV-show of the year once again. A brief inspection of the download locations shows that Game of Thrones pirates come from all over the world, as we’ve seen previously. The show is particularly popular in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Interestingly, Game of Thrones is available through legal channels in all countries listed above, albeit not cheaply. Despite the massive piracy numbers, we haven’t heard too many piracy complaints thus far, quite the contrary. Jeff Bewkes, CEO of HBO’s parent company Time Warner previously that piracy resulted in more subscriptions for his company, and that receiving the title of “most-pirated” was “better than an Emmy.” In any case, despite, or perhaps thanks to the massive piracy, Game of Thrones is doing better than ever. Source: TorrentFreak
  9. For the first time in history more than 200,000 people have shared a single file online at the very same time. A few hours ago Game of Thrones pirates smashed the old record, and a day after the latest episode came online more than 1.5 million people have already grabbed a copy. Game of Thrones has been the focus of many piracy discussions in recent years, and for good reason. The HBO hit series has a following of millions of “pirates” who prefer to watch the show through unauthorized channels instead of paid subscriptions. Some TV-industry insiders closely connected to the show see it as a compliment, or believe the show may even benefit from these rogue followers. On the other hand, however, HBO is cracking down on fans and sites who spread the show without permission. The pirates themselves are also divided in the reasons why they pirate. Some have no other option, as Game of Thrones is not available where they live, while others simply find the legal options too expensive. In the midst of all these different view points there is one stable factor. The demand among pirates is growing year after year. During the first season in 2011 the most popular episode was shared 3.4 million times during the entire year, a number that’s now reached in just a few days. Game of Thrones is particularly popular on torrent sites and this week BitTorrent pirates broke the magical record of 200,000 simultaneous sharers. A few hours after the first torrent of the show appeared on torrent sites, the Demonii tracker reported that 207,054 people were sharing one single torrent at the same time. 163,496 were sharing a complete copy of that particular torrent while 43,558 were still downloading. These are mind-boggling numbers that we’ve never seen before. The latest record was set just a few weeks ago, also for a Game of Thrones episode. Record-breaking 200,000+ simultaneous sharers This Game of Thrones torrent isn’t the only one that is widely shared. There are several copies of the show available in varying qualities which also have thousands of people downloading. Counting all the different releases it’s estimated that the latest Game of Thrones episode was downloaded more than 1.5 million times during the first day. This makes the show the likely candidate to be crowned the most-downloaded TV-show at the end of the year. As previously revealed, Game of Thrones downloaders come from all over the world. Data gathered by TorrentFreak previously revealed that most downloaders came from Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands. It will be interesting to see if the current record will be broken again later this year. For now, however, there are no signs that the pirates’ interest is waning. This means that, unless a miracle happens, Game of Thrones will be crowned the most torrented show for the third consecutive year. Source: TorrentFreak
  10. HBO is cracking down on unauthorized copies of Game of Thrones that have appeared online over the past weeks. The TV-network has sent Google several takedown requests to remove thousands of links from its search engine. Interestingly enough, the requests also list the popular show's official trailers. Game of Thrones is without a doubt the most pirated TV-show on the Internet. The popular series entered its fourth season early April and broke the record of most people sharing a pirated copy simultaneously. While several people connected to Game of Thrones have noted that piracy might actually benefit the show, HBO executives are clamping down on widespread piracy nonetheless. Over the past few weeks the TV-network has sent dozens of takedown requests to Google, listing thousands of allegedly pirated copies of their work. Many of these are links to torrent sites and streaming portals where recent episodes can be downloaded for free. With these takedown requests HBO hopes to make it harder for people to find unauthorized copies. However, a careful inspection of the notices by TorrentFreak reveals that promotional material such as trailers are also being censored. Unfortunately for HBO, Google happily processed these requests and removed the “infringing” trailers from their search results. As can be seen below, a search for “Game of Thrones trailer torrent” includes a notice that several results have been removed on copyright grounds. GoT trailer torrent search results Looking at the individual notices, it becomes clear that these are indeed links to promotional trailers which should be freely available to the public. The DMCA notice pictured in the screenshot below lists several of these URLs, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. GoT trailer takedowns The current crackdown on Game of Thrones runs counter to comments from director David Petrarca who said that piracy generates much-needed “cultural buzz.” These dubious takedowns may create a buzz as well, but probably not the kind HBO is hoping for. As for the trailer takedowns, we expect that these have been taken down in error. That wouldn’t be HBO’s first mistake either, as the company previously tried to censor their own website HBO.com because it apparently contained infringing content. Perhaps their automated takedown tools need some further adjustments? Source: TorrentFreak
  11. A site hosting movie and TV show screenshots to be used as components in fan created artwork has received a copyright takedown from HBO. ScreenCapped says that the company ordered the takedown of libraries of Game of Thrones and True Blood screenshots. The action comes as a surprise considering HBO's stance that even full-on piracy of their TV shows creates valuable buzz. If one had to single out a current TV show that is most-often related with Internet piracy it would have to be Game of Thrones. The show has been shared by millions of people and just last week broke yet another swarm record with 193,418 simultaneous sharers. There has been much discussion over HBO’s stance to this massive piracy. Last year, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo described the unauthorized downloading as “a compliment“, a statement that was followed up by plans to smarten up release schedules. The theory at HBO parent Time Warner is that while piracy is largely undesirable, it helps to generate buzz and reduces advertising expenditure. The company also believes that when fans enthuse over Game of Thrones it’s excellent word-of-mouth promotion, so that makes today’s news even more unusual. The developing situation involves fan site ScreenCapped.net. The site hosts user-uploaded screenshots of popular movies and TV shows which its users transform into fan-created artwork. The piece below is based on the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The site has a pretty large archive of screenshots from dozens of movies and TV shows, which until recently included HBO’s Game of Thrones and True Blood. But in a surprise move HBO has now accused the site of engaging in copyright infringement and ordered it to remove screenshots of these key titles. Screenshots from both shows no longer appear on the site. Worried at the implications of the HBO DMCA notice, a petition has been launched on Change.org in support of the site and requesting that HBO reconsiders its move. In the petition, which at the time of writing has already received more than 2,000 signatures, ScreenCapped operator Raina Stephens lays out her request to HBO’s anti-piracy director Jake Snyder. “The fans and staff of Screencapped.net ask that you remove the DMCA against Screencapped.net so that the site may continue to provide HBO fans with high quality screencaps for non-profit use,” Stephens writes. Users of the site have been expressing their disappointment on Change.org. “Come on, guys. You’re going to slap a DMCA claim on ONE site out of HUNDREDS for hosting screen captures?! It’s not like they’re hosting downloads of your episodes!” user Mandi S writes. “Drop the claim so I can get my favorite screencap gallery back! How do you think we fan artists make those amazing arts that you KNOW you love. Get real and drop the suit, PLEASE.” Another user, Alessia Colognesi from Italy, questions whether the move makes financial sense to HBO. “It’s ludicrous to think that watching/having screencaps will take away from the income of money that you might have. The only reasons why screencaps exist is to let creative people share their love for something making graphics, designs and such; and that’s a good thing because that way other people can take a look at a show and maybe start watching it. Go do something better with your time,” Colognesi concludes. While the precise motivation behind the takedown remains unclear, it’s difficult to argue with the two key points above. ScreenCapped isn’t offering the actual shows for download and discouraging fans from getting even more invested in a show via innocuous-looking screenshots seems to run counter to Time Warner/HBO’s “buzz is good” plan. Source: TorrentFreak
  12. The latest episode of Game of Thrones has broken the record for the most people sharing a file simultaneously via BitTorrent. More than 193,000 people shared a single copy yesterday evening, and roughly 1.5 million people downloaded the episode during the first day. Yesterday the second episode of Game of Thrones’ fourth season made its way onto the Internet. As expected, this generated quite a bit of activity on various torrent sites. From all over the world people virtually gathered around the various pirated copies of the show, breaking the record for the largest BitTorrent swarm ever in the process. A few hours after the second episode came online the Demonii tracker reported that 193,418 people where sharing one single torrent. 145,594 had a complete copy of the episode and continued to upload, while 47,824 were still downloading the file. These are unprecedented numbers – never before have 193,418 people shared a single file simultaneously. The previous record was set last year, when the season finale of Game of Thrones had 171,572 people sharing on a single tracker. Last week’s season opening, on the other hand, had “only” 140,000 people sharing the most active torrent. There wasn’t per se less interest in this episode, but at the time the downloaders were spread out more across different torrents. Game of Thrones’ new file-sharing record In addition to this record-breaking torrent, there were also several other Game of Thrones torrents out there with tens of thousands of people sharing. Counting all the different releases it’s estimated that the latest Game of Thrones episode was downloaded roughly 1.5 million times during the first day. This makes the show the likely candidate to be crowned the most-downloaded TV-show at the end of the year. As previously revealed, Game of Thrones downloaders come from all over the world. Data gathered during the first 12 hours after the release last week revealed that most downloaders came from Australia, followed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and The Netherlands. Interestingly, Game of Thrones is available through legal channels in all countries listed above, albeit not cheaply. The current record probably won’t last for long. The show’s ratings generally go up throughout the season, and so do the unauthorized downloads. This makes it likely that the barrier of 200,000 simultaneous file-sharers will be broken during the weeks to come. Source: TorrentFreak
  13. Millions of people pirate Game of Thrones instead of paying for it. One of the prime reasons is the hefty price tag that comes with a premium subscription, which isn't really a surprise if you look at the costs in some countries. Honestly, would you pay $500 to follow the latest season? In a few hours a new episode of Game of Thrones will appear on BitTorrent, and a few days later roughly four million people will have downloaded this unofficial release. Those who pirate the show have several reasons for doing so. In some countries there is simply no legal option available, however, the price tag that comes with many of the legal services is almost as big of a hurdle. So what does it cost to access Game of Thrones legally in the countries where the show is most frequently pirated? We decided to take a look based on the list of countries that had the most Game of Thrones file-sharers last week. Below is a selection of the options people have in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands. Australia In Australia, Game of Thrones fans need a Foxtel subscription. When we look at the packages offered on the website the cheapest option appears to be the movie and drama combo, which costs $74 AUD (~ 70 USD) per month. However, the minimum subscription term is six months, which with the added costs adds up to $520 AUD (~ 590 USD). Assuming that someone’s only interested in watching Game of Thrones, an Australian fan will have to pay $52 AUD (~ 49 USD) per episode, which is rather expensive. While it’s not advertised as any of the standard options, there’s also the Foxtel Play subscription. This allows people to watch Game of Thrones on demand on a variety of devices. The regular cost of this plan is $50 AUD (~ 50 USD) per month, and there’s currently an offer to get the first three months for $35 AUD (~ 33 USD). The Foxtel website notes that there is no long contract, which makes this option considerably cheaper. The United States In the United States there are several options available, which vary per cable provider. The cost of most HBO subscriptions are between $15 and $25 per month, depending on where you live and what your current plan is. The downside, in addition to being locked in for several months sometimes, is that the HBO deals require a cable/Internet subscription. This makes the total package considerably more expensive, more than $100 per month in some cases. But then again, pirates need an Internet subscription anyway. The United Kingdom In the United Kingdom Game of Thrones is available via Sky Atlantic. The costs are £21.50 (36 USD) a month, but with a minimum contract period of 12 months. This means that for those who are only interested in Game of Thrones, there’s a price tag of £25.80 per episode. The good news is that UK viewers can watch the episodes simultaneously with the US broadcast, which 9,000 people did this past Sunday. Canada In Canada, Game of Thrones comes in a package of The Movie Network. The price is roughly $20 CAD (~ 18 USD) per month on both Bell and Rogers. This also requires a digital or satellite TV subscription, which drives the price up to over $60 CAD per month for those who don’t have one. Again, as with the previous examples, some plans require a several-months-long contract which makes it less interesting for those who only want to watch Game of Thrones. The Netherlands In the Netherlands HBO can be ordered as an add-on to most standard cable TV subscriptions. The standard price is roughly 15 euros (~ 21 USD) per month, and several providers allow subscribers to cancel after a month. The cheapest cable subscriptions in the Netherlands average around 10 euros, which brings the total package to roughly 25 euros (~ 35 USD) per month. Interestingly, HBO NL offers the first episode of season 4 for free, on YouTube. Of course, this is only available to people from the Netherlands. Conclusion The above shows that Game of Thrones certainly doesn’t come cheap, especially not for the true cable-cutters who have no interest in the other content it’s bundled with. While most people will agree that paying for content is the right thing to do, it’s not always an intuitive choice when a single episode is twice as expensive as a box office ticket for the average Hollywood blockbuster. So do all these pirates have a point or not? According to Bruce Meagher, corporate director of “$52 AUD per episode” Foxtel, they do not. “What we are left with is an argument at the margins about a few dollars. Yet some people still feel that they should be entitled to take this show for free without the consent of its creators rather than pay a reasonable price for an extraordinary product,” he says. “The Lannisters may not be a pleasant lot, but they, at least, always pay their debts,” he adds. So what do you think? Source: TorrentFreak
  14. With more than a million downloads in half a day, the premiere of Game of Thrones' fourth season has set a new piracy record. People from all over the world grabbed a copy, and at its height this morning over 300,000 BitTorrent users were sharing the episode simultaneously. Yesterday evening saw a massive demand for the premiere of Game of Thrones’ fourth season, both on legal and less-authorized channels. The unprecedented demand caused trouble for the HBO Go service, which crashed and was unreachable for several hours on end. This outage probably motivated some to look for unauthorized copies, which were widely available through dozens of torrent sites soon after the episode finished. Unlike HBO Go, downloads via BitTorrent actually benefit from the increased interest, which usually means that downloads finish faster. And indeed, there has been plenty of interest in unauthorized copies of the Game of Thrones season premiere. Data gathered by TorrentFreak reveals that half a day after the first episode appeared online over a million people have already grabbed a copy via a torrent site. Earlier this morning, more than 300,000 people were actively sharing one of the three most-popular torrents. The number of downloads is roughly the same as last year, but the season premiere didn’t set a record for the largest BitTorrent swarm, most likely because there were multiple popular copies available. The most shared torrent file had around 140,000 people sharing at once at its height this morning. Game of Thrones sharers During the days to come the number of downloads is expected to grow by several millions. Last year Game of Thrones became the most pirated TV-show for the second time, and with today’s numbers it is well on its way to securing the title for another year. In addition to the downloads, we also looked at the countries people were sharing from. A sample of 18,333 IP-addresses collected over the day shows that Australia takes the crown with 11.6% of the total. The United States is a good second with 9.3%, followed by the United Kingdom with 5.8%. The number one spot for Australia is all the more impressive since it has a population of just over 22 million people, relatively small compared to the other two countries. Looking at the city level we see that most downloads come from Melbourne, before Athens and Sydney. So, why are all these people pirating Game of Thrones? As always, there are many reasons why people may choose torrents or other pirate sources. In some cases there is simply no legal alternative, because of licensing issues for example, or due to technical troubles such as those suffered yesterday by HBO Go. In other cases the legal options are too limited, restrictive, or expensive. The reasons above are not exhaustive of course, there are many more reasons why people turn to BitTorrent. For some it’s become a habit that will be hard to break, no matter where they live and how good the legal alternatives are. If there are any Game of Thrones pirates reading this, let us know what drives you in the comments. #Country%City%1Australia11.6%Melbourne3.2%2United States9.3%Athens2.9%3United Kingdom5.8%Sydney2.0%4Canada5.2%London1.9%5The Netherlands4.7%Stockholm1.7%6Philippines4.6%Amsterdam1.7%7India4.2%Madrid1.5%8Greece3.6%Warsaw1.4%9Poland3.0%Brisbane1.4%10Sweden2.7%Perth1.3% Source: TorrentFreak
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