ByMark Newton, writer at Creators.co
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have been at each others throats for a few years now. As two of the most popular shows on television, the AMC and HBO flagships have been competing in the ratings since they first hit the air. However, now AMC and Game of Thrones executive producer Gale Anne Hurd has hit out at Time Warner executive, Jeff Bewkes, for his views on piracy.

Both shows frequently appear at the top of the 'most pirated' charts - with Game of Thrones in particular being downloaded over twice as often as The Walking Dead. However, whereas HBO seem more accepting of this officially illegal practice, The Walking Dead producer Hurd is less forgiving. She explained to The Guardian:

The truth is you wouldn’t imagine stealing someone’s car [or] a piece of art they have created. We are poised on the precipice in filmed entertainment – TV and movies – because of the prevalence of piracy the content creators will not get a revenue stream to the point that they won’t be able to create. That is the danger of piracy.

Her comments come as a response to those made by Jeff Bewkes, the chief executive of Time Warner - the parent company of HBO - who claimed topping the piracy charts is "better than an Emmy" as a means of driving publicity. However, Hurd states this is "really dangerous thinking" and called on companies that abet internet piracy to take more responsibility.

In particular, she claimed illegitimate web results often rank higher than legitimate ones on Google - citing Netflix and House of Cards as an example. She stated that these legitimate sites did not appear in the top 50 Google results for the search terms - a claim I've been unable to replicate in the office. Currently, Netflix's official link for House of Cards is ranked third on Google, after Wikipedia and IMDB. Regardless, she stated:

First of all if you go on search engines you should be able to filter out pirated websites. When consumers do go [onto pirate websites] they look legitimate,. They have advertising from well-known brands, and they take credit cards. How would the consumer know the difference between legitimate sites and illegitimate sites? There is a lot the advertising industry, credit card industry and search industry can do to help protect legit content.

Once again, I'm not sure how much of an issue this is for the search engine providers. Most internet piracy is conducted through a relatively small number of dependable hosting and torrent sites, with pirates heading directly to those sites rather than using Google to find unreliable torrenting sites.

Internet piracy is no doubt an issue for content providers, although I'm not sure the comments offered by Hurd are particularly constructive or informed. Indeed, the claim it is no 'different from stealing a car' is one that is frequently cited, and then subsequently lampooned. For example below:

Furthermore, studies have shown that pirates of content online are frequently much more likely to spend money on such media. One study found that those who download music, are often up to 10 times more likely to buy music than those who do not pirate. Indeed, HBO has originally stated that piracy has led to an increase in DVD sales, and not the opposite.

Piracy is certainly an issue, especially for smaller content providers, but with other studies showing 50% of Americans, and 70% of younger Americans, regularly pirate media, it's one which I think needs to be tackled more creatively than simply with knee-jerk reactions comparing it to clearly more serious and unconscionable crimes.

What do you think? Is internet piracy the same as stealing a car?

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Is internet piracy the same as stealing a car?

Source: The Guardian

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