ByAngelo Delos Trinos, writer at
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Angelo Delos Trinos

This year, the network giant HBO made its way to the headlines, but not necessarily for reasons the company's executives were hoping for. HBO's highly publicized problems began a few weeks ago when hackers were able to steal nearly 1.5 terabytes of information and content, including unreleased episodes of the channel's flagship show, Game of Thrones. Since then, observers and concerned onlookers were wondering how would deal with the problem at hand and hopefully prevent future hacking threats, and it looks like the prestigious company have now legal taken action.

Australia Moves In Favor Of HBO

Based on multiple cases and charges, including one filed by itself, courts based in Australia have ordered local network providers to block more than 50 websites that illegally stream pirated content. Websites such as EZTV, Limetorrents, MegaShare, Watch Series and many more were immediately blocked following the court's orders, and could no longer be accessed within those territories.

'Mad Max: Fury Road' [Credit: Warner Brothers]
'Mad Max: Fury Road' [Credit: Warner Brothers]

Joining HBO's crackdown are the Australia-based Mad Max producer Roadshow Films and Foxtel, HBO's official distributor of in Australia. Village Roadshow, the largest film producer based in Australia, is moving forward with its plans to also include "hundreds" of viewers who illegally pirate shows rather than pay for them in its copyright infringement lawsuit that's aimed at numerous illegal pirate domains.

The suing of individual copyright infringers is something that Graham Burke, co-executive chairman and co-CEO of Village Roadshow, has pledged to do later in the year. As he said in an interview:

"We will identify people who are stealing our product, we will ask them do they have ill health or dire circumstances, and if they do and undertake to stop, we'll drop the case."

'Game of Thrones' [Credit: HBO]
'Game of Thrones' [Credit: HBO]

The Creative Content Australia (CCA), an organization committed to raising awareness about the ramifications of intellectual theft and similar crimes, joined the authorities' efforts to stem online piracy by launching an information campaign called The Price of Piracy. Through TV spots, infomercials and many more, the CCA hopes to inform the viewing public about the risks that downloading or streaming pose to the local film industry and more importantly, their own livelihood and privacy.

Compared to HBO's home country of America, Australia has a stricter stance on online piracy and illegal file sharing. In fact, Australia has also banned more than 340 sites for similar charges - so expect this number to rise as Australian authorities continue their ongoing crackdown.

The Hackers' Winter Is Here: HBO Fights Back

Following the troubling series of leaks that saw the unauthorized release of various shows and new properties that have yet to be aired, HBO has been working double time with authorities to find those responsible. Though not all of the perpetrators have been caught, recent efforts have yielded desirable results.

Prior to the recent developments in Australia, four members of Prime Focus Technologies were arrested in India after being suspected of leaking the fourth episode in Game of Thrones's seventh season. Prime Focus Technologies is the tech vendor of Star India, HBO's India-based distribution partner.

With just one episode left before Game of Thrones' latest season ends, tensions are high as fears of yet another leak loom over HBO. As a potential solution, the network has considered improving its paid online sharing services instead of solely focusing on the crackdown against online piracy, citing that the recent leaks were actually beneficial.

As Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said in an interview with Business Insider:

"It's just really strengthening not just the image, but the engagement of our subs [subscribers] with HBO programming, it's also getting them familiar and more involved with using the video on demand capabilities of HBO and don't forget, the television part."

Although the leak has caused HBO a considerable upset in recent weeks, it's good to know that the company is able to look at the bigger picture and determine how their streaming service can be improved. Their adaptation of George R. R. Martin's fantasy series has given them much acclaim, and the popular channel deserves to reap the rewards of this success.

What are your thoughts on the Game of Thrones leaks? Let me know with a comment.

[Source: Business Insider, Financial Review, Fortune]


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