Every week millions of people download the latest episode of the Showtime hit series “Homeland” via file-sharing sites.
Tens of thousands of these downloads originate from Poland, where it can take weeks before the episodes air on local TV. This huge interest in unauthorized copies has created a high demand for “pirate subtitles,” a niche which the group Hatak has been serving for years.
Many copyright holders are not happy with these pirate subtitle releases and prefer to shut these sites down. But where others see a threat, the Polish book publisher Wydawnictwo Otwarte (Open Publishing) decided to use this unauthorized distribution channel to its advantage.
The publisher is selling the Polish translation of David Kaplan’s book “Homeland: Carrie’s Run,” which is a prequel to the popular TV-series. In a unique opportunity to appeal directly to thousands of Homeland “pirates,” the publisher teamed up with group Hatak to promote the book.
“We decided to advertise via subtitles because we wanted to show the book to all the fans of the Homeland series in Poland, no matter where they watch the show,” Maciej Migda, Managing Director at Wydawnictwo Otwarte told TorrentFreak.
The publisher explained that they wanted to plug the book in spots where people would see it as useful information instead of an ad. This means that the added text should not interfere with people’s viewing habits.
“We also wanted to inform them about the prequel book in a specific context. When they watch the credits and flashbacks from the Carrie’s past we catch them with the phrase ‘How did it all begin? Let’s read the prequel book,” Migda says.
Below is a screenshot of the subtitle file and how it appears on-screen. In this case during the opening credits the subtitles show the text “How did it start? You will learn from a book prequel “Homeland: Carrie’s Run.”
Subtitle file promoting the book
TorrentFreak spoke to Karol, the Hatak group member who translates Homeland for Polish viewers. He tells us that the cooperation with the publisher is not really an ad, his main motivation is to bring the book to the attention of Homeland fans.
“It’s just information for the ‘Homeland’ fans about the new book, based on Showtime’s hit series. Unfortunately, the book promotion in Poland was really poor, so I thought placing the mention about it in subtitles was in the fans’ best interest.”
The publisher gave Hatak several copies of the Homeland book in return for the promotion, which the group gave away via their Facebook page.
“The publisher gave us a few copies of the book, so we could organize the prize competition on Facebook. In addition, we received a few copies of ‘A Captain’s Duty’ for our Facebook fans, without running an ‘ad’ in the subtitles.”
“I think it’s a really good deal that makes everyone happy and so far I haven’t had any complaints from the users,” Karol notes.
The Polish Homeland subtitles are downloaded by roughly 4,000 people every week, which results in a lot of highly targeted promotion for the book. According to the publisher, Homeland fans appreciated the guerrilla advertising which resulted in at least a few extra sales.
“The responses we got so far tell us that people appreciated the fact that we informed them about the book, and some have bought it,” Migda informs TorrentFreak.
To our knowledge this is the first time that a copyright holder has teamed up with a subtitle group to promote related content. While we don’t expect this type of promotion to become mainstream anytime soon, it is a great example of how unauthorized distribution is able to add value for copyright holders.