The U.S. ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey L. Bleich, is on a mission: to stop the illegal downloading of Game of Thrones.
On Tuesday, Bleich urged watchers of the show to stop pirating HBO’s hit TV show in a Facebook message that coincided with the 17th annual U.N. World Book and Copyright Day. He urged viewers to stop, citing the illegal downloading of the show just “as epic and devious as the drama.”
In his note, he wrote:
The file-sharing news website TorrentFreak estimated that Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV series of 2012. One episode was illegally downloaded about 4,280,000 times through public BitTorrent trackers in 2012, which is about equal to the number of that episode’s broadcast viewers. In other words, about half of that episode’s viewers stole the program from HBO.
But what exactly does Tyrion Lannister have to do with Australian policy? It turns out that Australian viewers are among the largest audience that downloads the show.
HBO has remained (unofficially, at least) tolerant of the show’s rampant piracy, drawing comments from both cast and crew members alike. Michael Lombardo, HBO’s programming president, pointed out in December that it comes with the territory.
“I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but it is a compliment of sorts,” Lombardo told Entertainment Weekly. “The demand is there. And it certainly didn’t negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network.”
Director David Petrarca has made similar comments regarding the show’s rampant piracy on a visit to Sydney, according to the Washington Post. “[Downloads] generate buzz … that’s how they survive.”