Game of Thrones outs the Aussie pirates

Game of Thrones outs the Aussie pirates

Summary: Australians on Twitter were talking about the first episode of season two of Game of Thrones last night but there's just one problem: it hasn't aired here yet.


Australians on Twitter were talking about the first episode of season two of Game of Thrones last night. There's just one problem about that: it hasn't aired here yet.

Foxtel, which will get first dibs on the season, won't air the first episode until 10 April. By then, it's clear the hardcore fanbase for the HBO adaptation of George RR Martin's fantasy book series will have already seen that episode and will be moving onto the second.

That people are accessing the episode before it airs here using BitTorrent, or using Hulu or Netflix via VPN is nothing new. Australia has arguably one of the highest rates of TV copyright infringement in the world, fuelled by intransigent content owners and television networks that hold off airing programs for weeks or months at a time. This means those programs are not available in Australia legitimately until well after it is available through other methods.

What is new is just how open people seem to be about it. Game of Thrones, more so than any other show, seemed to encourage media personalities, journalists, people in the tech industry and others to talk openly on social networks about something they couldn't have seen without infringing on some part of the Copyright Act.

Is it just that using BitTorrent has now become so common that it's less of a taboo subject? Or has iiNet's long-running feud with film studios action group the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) lulled people into a false sense of security that they won't be targeted until that case is concluded?

AFACT isn't suggesting now that it will launch actions against individuals for their piracy in the near future, but is lobbying the government and internet services providers (ISPs) to begin implementing a gradual response scheme (at the ISPs' cost) that serves to educate and ultimately deter users from infringing with the threat of a suspended internet service.

This is similar to the scheme the US Center for Copyright Information is looking to implement in the United States.

Australian ISPs would prefer a co-pay scheme where eventually, and through proper judicial process, groups like AFACT can get a user's information and then fight it out with that user in the courts.

But would these sorts of schemes really be effective?

Interestingly, even the so-called "three strikes" law implemented in New Zealand last year seems to be doing nothing to stem the amount of digital copyright infringement. New Zealand network research group WAND gave a presentation in January to a New Zealand Network Operators Group event that showed evidence from one New Zealand ISP that while peer-to-peer traffic dropped to about 40 per cent of its levels in January 2011 by January 2012, there was a massive jump in the use of tunnelling by 2.4 times in one year.

"This is probably indicative of people changing their approach to downloading copyrighted material. Instead of participating in file sharing on their home machines, it has become more common for people to use machines based in other countries and ship the file back home via another protocol. This might be via SSH, VPN or FTP, for example, which are all covered by the growing categories," WAND said.

Will users continue to flaunt their piracy before rights holders as they use VPNs to make a mockery of gradual response schemes?

Topics: Piracy, Government AU, Legal, Security, Telcos


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • The facts are this - if this show WAS available in Australia - ON TIME and for REASONABLE cost - this wouldnt be an issue at all.

    Massive delays in shows from the USA make the internet incredibly attractive. Why anyone would think that people wouldnt go to the internet and pirate something that ISNT available here is impossibly stupid.

    They have this equipment called the internet. They have this other thing called Netflix. Now if only Netflix would go - hey guys - sure we'll stream you channels like HBO or USA TV but you'll have to pay a subscription fee much like your US mates here. We can supply the service, you'll need ADSL internet and its all good.

    Simple Solution to a Simple Problem. Why is business hard ?
    • i used isohunt to download episode 2 series 2 of game of thrones forget paying. if people in other countrys have watched it how can it be illegal to download it. if am a pirate so be it . but hell of a series.
  • What happened to supply and demand? The customer is always right? Since when could an entire industry harass large parts of their customer base and still make money? I would gladly pay for a service where I could download my TV shows legally. Until then, I'm not gonna lose any sleep over "piracy".

    Since music streaming and easy access to buy music digitally became available, I haven't downloaded so much as a single tune, and have deleted all those I did download once. And no, I don't want my media on a cumbersome and DRM protected disk. I want them on my media centre PC. The world has progressed. The industry is both outdated, stubborn and greedy. The media will always be available in the way the customers want them. Someone will always make sure of that. So instead of fighting their customer base in court, why not work with us and provide your products in the way we want then? We're getting them anyway. That's where you're losing out on your profits. By being stubborn.
  • Its an amazing series, and personally I don't see the problem. I downloaded the first season because it was not available on disk. I liked it that much, I went out and bought the blu-ray as soon as it was released. The above comments are spot on.
  • Wow. What a solid piece of balanced reporting, Josh.

    "intransigent content owners and television networks that hold off airing programs for weeks or months at a time". Just to be clear - the difference in Australia is one week, right? Not the pluralistic version? Or months?

    It wouldn't matter how long the delay was on the show - if it was screening tonight, the piracy would be the same. Where the user (incorrectly) believes they are entitled to consume something for free - they will. Nielson found in there Feb 2010 report 'Changing Models" that "nearly eight out of ten (79%) would no longer use a website that charges them, presuming they can find the same information at no cost" - think Hulu+/Netflix in the US. If users could easily and reliably free alternatives - 8/10 would stop paying for these services.

    People are so open online in discussing it, because 'tech' reporters such as yourself (or blogger given this is less of a news article than it is a rant), who get paid for their copyrighted work, are loathing of an industry which supports them, give a platform for the leechers of intellectual property and blame the content owners and copyright holders for the problem. Look in the mirror to see why the problem exists.

    Additionally, your traffic analysis of NZ shows your complete and utter ineptitude. Just because 240% is a bigger number than 40% - does not make them proportionally equivalent. If peer to peer traffic was conservatively estimated at say 40%, and dropped 40% - that represents a now total overall percentage of 24%. However, for VPN to have filled that void, you are saying that VPN traffic started at approx 6.5% of total internet traffic and has increased to around 16% (or 240% increase). I'm sorry Josh - that is not the reality of the VPN market, and shows your understanding of of bandwidth utilisation is somewhat lacking. Either that, or the contortion of the truth is more important to support your terribly biased article.

    How about you try journalism - or head over to TorrentFreak to write your blog pieces. I hear there's a large readership over there for these kind of articles.
    • Hi JBHurst,

      What I meant in the analysis of the numbers (but perhaps didn't make clear enough) was that it went from 100% in 2011 to 240% in 2012.


      Josh Taylor
      • Well, I take it from your limited reply that you don't disagree with the other premises in the argument:

        1. It wouldn't matter the delay - people would still pirate it.
        2. Tech journalists provide a platform to perpetuate myths and vitriol against content owners
        3.You don't understand percentages. (a starting point will be 100% if it is the comparative point) i.e. 0.1% of all connections in 2011 to 0.24% in 2012 is a 240% increase year on year - it is still a number which in itself, means nothing.
        4. You should write for TF

        And to answer you tweet - yes, I am accusing you of bias. No where in your article did you mention the cost of creating each episode, the cost of licensing the rights to the show. Actually - it does not appear you have even considered the cost of production or the right of an owner to recoup their investment.

        Just because you work for CBS does not mean you are above reproach and could therefore not be biased. That you infer that in your tweet shows nothing but your arrogance....
        • Hi JBHurst,

          I probably should mention that this is a blog post, as such it is not a news article, and therefore I am allowed to express my opinion in it.

          Copyright holders are allowed to seek to get a return for their work but more often than not this is done through punative court action rather than realising the way in which people consume media has changed, and seeking to adapt to that.


          Josh Taylor
          • Josh - I was totally unaware that the reason copyrights holders took "punative (sic) court action" was to "get a return for their work". I knew that the funding mechanisms of the music and film industry was somewhat convoluted, but I always thought they took legal action to protect their creative content not so that they could fund their next project. With such an insight into the copyright industry I can see why your in depth and balanced analysis of new media, human rights and copyright law is so sought after.
        • If you actually had any kind of valid point in the above rambling diatribe, it was completely lost amongst your myopic vitriol.

          Just for kicks, lets address your point above:

          1. It wouldn't matter the delay - people would still pirate it.
          Nothing more than a sweeping generalisation. The success of the Louis CK experiment:

          seems to fly in the face of your bitter cynicism as well. Why not try being an optimist and perhaps realising that if the distribution model and price is fair, people will for the most part, do the right thing and support content creators.

          2. Tech journalists provide a platform to perpetuate myths and vitriol against content owners
          Reading past your relentless negativity, one might suggest that disruptive, emergent technology (like the Internet as a content distribution platform) has always challenged the status quo and a tech journalists job is promote discussion around this. Also, it's a bit rich to point this out when content owners routinely trot out their completely baseless 'piracy figures' or 'lost sales' figures and the like. If you had a good point, (which you don't), both sides of the debate are as bad as each other when it comes to promoting myths on the subject.

          3.You don't understand percentages. (a starting point will be 100% if it is the comparative point) i.e. 0.1% of all connections in 2011 to 0.24% in 2012 is a 240% increase year on year - it is still a number which in itself, means nothing.
          VPN Tunelling and P2P bandwidth trends provide an interesting juxtaposition relevant to the article but you seem to be the only person suggesting they are proportionally equivalent. You also seem to have problems with reading comprehension, as the figures in question, as the article states, are from a third party research group. Irrespective of it's accuracy, the article was simply a commentary of the data that had been provided by another party.

          4. You should write for TF
          This was a thinly veiled personal attack. It's lessened the impact of any valid point you might have had and ensured that anybody reading your comments won't take anything else you say seriously.

          Jog on mate.
    • where's Joffrey Bratheon when you need him...
    • "How about you try journalism - or head over to TorrentFreak to write your blog pieces. I hear there's a large readership."

      Oi - don't give him any ideas. Well written, Josh.
  • I've been waiting for GOTS2 for a while. If I had to wait a month or even two more, I would. I cannot get it on FreeView. I cannot purchase it on iTunes (As I did with GOTS1). I cannot purchase it anywhere else. Instead I am expected to take out a Foxtel contract, 99% of which I don't want. Not to mention having to wait for them to cable the house, install equipment and then still miss the episodes that have already aired.

    Tell me again why I should not just download it?
  • Oops, sorry iTunes, just checked and GOTS2 is now showing up. I'll be purchasing a season pass. I know lots of people whose attitude is "Why pay when you can get it for free", but I actually don't mind paying for great content.
    • Yeah, it's there but you can't get the first episode yet. (I don't watch the show myself, so I just checked then). I suspect that won't be released until it's aired on Foxtel, as tends to happen with other US TV shows here.

      I agree completely that people will pay for good content. And a lot of people justify going down the piracy way by saying they'll watch it again on Foxtel, or they'll buy the DVDs or Blu Ray. So that's another side to the argument that doesn't get brought up all that much.
      Josh Taylor
      • Then people should simply wait until it is available for purchase! It is a simple concept of society isn't it? Or has modern society become so spoilt in getting what they want when they want that they've forgotten core social values?

        It isn't a justification at all for piracy, but rather evidence that people lack social morals. There's no argument at all: if the content is good enough to pay for then it is good enough to wait for.

        I agree there should be better methods to share content across the globe, but it doesn't justify disregarding the laws. I don't agree with certain speed limits on certain roads, but it doesn't justify it if I speed on them.
        • Why the hell should people wait a year to watch a tv show? I will wait a year to watch a tv show I'm only half interested in, not a great one. The good enough to wait for comment makes zero sense. If I pirate a show then buy the bluray later, I've compensated the makers. That's all there is to it.

          This toeing the letter of the law thing is BS. I see coppers breaking the speed limit EVERY DAY. And no one cares. Rules and laws are bent and broken all the time, often with complete nonchalance by people whom would regard themselves as law abiding citizens. if you can say you have genuinely never broken any law in your entire life, you are probably lying.
          • And here is an example of my earlier point about spoilt society. Why wait you ask... because it is legal. You say that makes no sense, but the reality is you have no sense of the law and simply try justifying your breaking of it.

            Again, you justify your own ignorance of the law by deflecting to others who break the law. I'm definitely not suggesting I toe the letter of the law, but I know when I do break it, I must accept the consequences of that without complaint. If I get a speeding fine doing 70 in a 60 zone, in a country area, at 3am when no other cars are around... I am not in denial about my action, nor whinge about the sense of obeying the law in scenario, not the penalty for the breach.

            GOT season one aired in the US one year ago, and despite desperately wanting to see it I waited until the other week for it to be released on BR here, so I could finally see the fuss... and I loved the show. Now season two is just being released of course I want to watch the show ASAP, but I wont do so illegally. That leaves me with few options, access it legally online (if available), wait for it on Foxtel or wait for it on BR (probably 12 months away).

            The fact of the matter is: it will never actually hurt me to wait for it legally! I can watch other shows or fill my time in other ways. Waiting for it legally also wont hurt the makers of GOT as that marketing shcedule is what they're basing their revenue on. However, not waiting for it legally will potentially hurt the makers of GOT.
          • It won't hurt the producers of GOT, it will only hurt the Australian distributors. If you love the distributors so much then I'm sure you don't mind putting your money where your mouth is and compensating them for all these "pirates" out of your own pocket. Donate your money to them if you think they don't earn enough. Why? Because the people who refuse to pay for it would not be paying for it in *any case*, if it wasn't available for download they simply *would not watch it*. The people who *do* want to pay for it should not be penalised simply becase the distibutors have an agenda and play games like airing things late, cutting out scenes, etc, coercing you to purchase the directors cut edition off them in addition to paying them a monthly network subscription, etc.

            Have you even bothered to check how the profits are distributed amongst the distributors, actors, writers, and producers, etc?

            Just because something is "the law" doesn't mean it's right, and that's why people are getting fed up. The media is in cahoots with the lawmakers, and just because you personally don't have the aptitude to see that you are being played for the fool you are and used as a pawn doesn't mean that the more switched on of us have to listen to your self rightous mental **** If you think Rupert Murdoch is having a tough time and doesn't make enough money, that's fine, but no one is going to take you seriously. So just give him your money and shut up.
          • +1 gaz. kaysee, i cannot believe your ignorance and naivety. Do you have the capacity to think for yourself and not consume the crap these companies feed you? I gues not.