Game of Thrones is without a doubt the most pirated TV-show on the Internet.
The popular series entered its fourth season early April and broke the record of most people sharing a pirated copy simultaneously. While several people connected to Game of Thrones have noted that piracy might actually benefit the show, HBO executives are clamping down on widespread piracy nonetheless.
Over the past few weeks the TV-network has sent dozens of takedown requests to Google, listing thousands of allegedly pirated copies of their work. Many of these are links to torrent sites and streaming portals where recent episodes can be downloaded for free.
With these takedown requests HBO hopes to make it harder for people to find unauthorized copies. However, a careful inspection of the notices by TorrentFreak reveals that promotional material such as trailers are also being censored.
Unfortunately for HBO, Google happily processed these requests and removed the “infringing” trailers from their search results. As can be seen below, a search for “Game of Thrones trailer torrent” includes a notice that several results have been removed on copyright grounds.
Looking at the individual notices, it becomes clear that these are indeed links to promotional trailers which should be freely available to the public. The DMCA notice pictured in the screenshot below lists several of these URLs, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The current crackdown on Game of Thrones runs counter to comments from director David Petrarca who said that piracy generates much-needed “cultural buzz.” These dubious takedowns may create a buzz as well, but probably not the kind HBO is hoping for.
As for the trailer takedowns, we expect that these have been taken down in error. That wouldn’t be HBO’s first mistake either, as the company previously tried to censor their own website HBO.com because it apparently contained infringing content.
Perhaps their automated takedown tools need some further adjustments?