HBO says online piracy does not hurt sales, is a “compliment”, and helps grow buzz


With millions of people downloading episodes via file sharing, we already know Game of Thrones is the most pirated TV show of 2012 and is likely going to top the charts in 2013, too. You’d think with so many million illegally downloading the TV show, Game of Thrones staff and HBO would be livid. As it turns out, they aren’t.

At a discussion at University of Western Australia last month, Game of Thrones director David Petrarca was asked about the huge number of people that pirate the show. Petrarca responded that piracy of the show was actually a good thing; it helps “cultural buzz” and social commentary about the show. In fact, Petrarca feels “that’s how they [shows] survive”.

Aside from Petrarca, Rose Leslie — the actor that plays Ygritte — feels huge piracy of Game of Thrones is actually a “compliment”:

“I don’t think HBO will be too happy, but yes, one way or another that’s a huge compliment. Not just to me but to the show as a whole.”

HBO programming president Michael Lombardo agrees with Leslie, telling EW:

“I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”

Lombardo went on to drop an even further bombshell — piracy does not affect sales:

The demand is there. And it [piracy] certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales.

These comments by HBO and related staff are very interesting, because it is very that someone connected to the entertainment to praises piracy. More importantly, when put into context with studies that suggest people who pirate music are more likely to buy music, there seems to be a pattern that online piracy is not as bad as the entertainment industry wants us to think. Does that make piracy right? I doubt most people would say “yes”. However, I’m sure most people will agree that anti-piracy advocates have blown it way out of proportion.

[via TorrentFreak]

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  • cableuserau


    Perhaps I didn’t type exactly what I was thinking; I agree that dl’ing is not depriving anyone at all of anything; with one proviso, it does (short term) deprive some of income! BUT they gain much more with the exposure of their product. Hence as I previously stated, more actors, producers etc. etc. are now the big winners and we the consumers win also.

    Sounds like a win-win situation to me!

    Cheers – cableuserau.

  • Ashraf

    [@RealBull] Apple made a genius move by allowing “previews” of songs before purchasing on iTunes. I’ve heard people that say they stopped pirating thanks to these previews, because now they no longer need to download a song to decide if they want to purchase or not.

    [@cableuserau] Traditional theft is based on the doctrine of denying access or use to an asset owned by someone else. You take something that belongs to someone else, they are deprived of it so that is considered theft. The problem with online piracy of content is there is no such doctrine because, when you download something, you aren’t directly denying access to someone else. Does that mean piracy is OK? No, that means it has a lot of gray areas.

  • cableuserau

    Theft simply is wrong, is dl’ing theft and does it really hurt the industry and cost jobs?

    Think about it, b4 dl’ing we never had so many new films, music etc. to choose from. That requires a lot more actors, directors, producers and junior staff to produce.

    For me when I’ve seen something of value I buy it; because I want more of the same!

    But like another user here said “how many have you bought something (this e.g. is music) on the basis of one good song and the rest is crap?

    I used to be able to buy music and KNOW that the band had put a good collection of music on that album! Now if you get 1,2 or wow 3 good songs ur lucky.

    So the corporates need to start/resume putting product out there that you can be confident of. Really, who wants to bother dl’ing stuff when you are confident that what you can buy is consistently good in the main?

    Hopefully the net will force corporates to put out some more quality than what they do now!

  • RealBull

    I don’t believe in piracy, but I do believe that companies should allow people to watch videos or listen to music before a customer buys the product. How many times have we bought a DVD or CD that turned out to be junk. The worst part is that you cannot have your money refunded. So now you just paid for an expensive coaster.

  • jimx29

    This is also why record sales are high too.

  • Gonzo

    I’m sure I’m not the only one to think it took too long for 1 company to actually realize about this…

  • Netpilot

    About time someone in the industry fessed up about piracy. It’s refreshing.

    Now they just have to get rid of the draconian ‘six strikes’.

  • AT

    I don’t remember where I saw this quote.

    “It’s not piracy. It’s marketing. They should be more worried if nobody downloaded their movie.”