First four episodes of eagerly awaited new season of the hit HBO show have been uploaded to several torrent sites
A day before the premiere of the much-anticipated fifth season of Game of Thrones, the first four episodes have been leaked online.
The unauthorised releases came despite the best efforts of HBO, which had scheduled the premiere simultaneously in 170 countries in an attempt to discourage illegal distribution. The fantasy drama has become the most pirated in TV show in the world.
Mashable reported that the four episodes, which have been uploaded to several torrent sites, appeared to have emerged from review DVDs sent to the press and had their digital watermarks blurred out.
A spokesperson for HBO told Mashable: “Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of Game of Thrones originated from within a group approved by HBO to receive them. We’re actively assessing how this breach occurred.”
TorrentFreak reported that the episodes were downloaded more than 100,000 times during the first three hours online..
The return of the show was already said to have prompted a huge surge in internet piracy, with fans making more than 100,000 illegal downloads a day of episodes of the show from previous series. A snapshot of global illegal downloading, carried out by anti-piracy and security firm Irdeto, found more than 7m Game of Thrones episodes from seasons one to four were downloaded between 5 February and 6 April.
Irdeto’s research showed that the top country for illegal downloads of Game of Thrones episodes during the snapshot period was Brazil, which accounted for almost 1m of them. It was was followed by France, the US and Canada with the UK ranking fifth with 275,000 downloads.
Last week, Game of Thrones producer Greg Spence expressed concern about the prospect of leaks of the new series. “The cast is looping all over the world, sending files back and forth,” he told the Denver Post. “The files are watermarked, and editors have to confirm in writing that they’ve deleted them.”
The show, based on George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire novel series, has attracted a cult following since first airing in 2011, attracting a throng of “Thronies”. It has won 14 Emmys in the US. In the UK, it won the Radio Times audience award at the Baftas in 2013 – a prize that it has also been nominated for this year.
In the US, the first episode of season five was due to air at 9pm ET. It will be shown in the UK on Sky Atlantic at 9pm on Monday.
This article was written by Haroon Siddique, for theguardian.com on Sunday 12th April 2015 16.49 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010