Game of Thrones: download trends and legal implications

Game of Thrones: download trends and legal implications

Game of Thrones has for years had the debatable honor of being one of the most downloaded series. With all the streaming services that are available today, illegal downloading has been on its way for several years, but fans of Game of Thrones are happy to make an exception. The new season is also being received en masse via torrent networks. The first installment of the last season was illegally downloaded around 54 million times worldwide within 24 hours of release, according to the Muso agency that charts digital piracy. So we know the global statistics, but what is that specifically in the Netherlands? Is Game of Thrones also massively downloaded here? And what are the legal implications of this? Now that the new season Game of Thrones 3 episodes is on its way, it is possible to take stock.

Trend 1. Increased interest in anonymous downloading

With a VPN, people can go online safely, because a VPN encrypts your internet traffic and protects against hackers. The use of a VPN is therefore even recommended by the Dutch government. With a VPN you also ensure that your IP address and identity remain hidden when you go online. As a result, you can no longer be traced and your surfing and downloading behavior is made anonymous. You can also bypass VPN internet censorship and online blockades, such as The Pirate Bay blockade. It works by simply taking out a subscription online with a reliable VPN provider and then installing a simple app on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Within 5 minutes you are safer, more anonymous and freer online.

We spoke with some VPN providers about the use of their service in combination with Game of Thrones. For example, we spoke with ExpressVPN , a VPN provider whose software has been downloaded more than 30 million times worldwide. This VPN service is used for, among other things, anonymous download of torrents and unblocking of streams. CyberGhost told us that a 40% increase in website traffic, server load and new customers is being observed when new Game of Thrones seasons come out. So it seems that more and more people are using a VPN to remain anonymous when downloading and streaming Game of Thrones.

NordVPN, another VPN provider that has proven very suitable for torrenting and streaming , reports similar findings. With every Game of Thrones season and even with each individual episode, NordVPN sees a clear peak in the statistics (server load, website traffic and new customers).

Trend 2. Completion of The Pirate Bay

In recent years there has been a lot going on around The Pirate Bay. Many major Dutch internet providers have blocked access to The Pirate Bay . Google search trends show that despite the blockade, people are still very interested in access to The Pirate Bay since Game of Thrones season 8 came out. The famous torrent network is therefore still a frequently used medium for downloading.

Trend 3. Fear of legal consequences of downloading

The interest in the subject of download fines is also striking . This suggests that people have a certain fear of being punished when they download Game of Thrones. This was a reason for us to talk to IT lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet. Later in this article, he explains how it works with download fines and downloading Game of Thrones.

What are the legal implications of downloading Game of Thrones? In conversation with IT lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet

With the release of Game of Thrones, there has been a marked increase in interest in The Pirate Bay, download fines and anonymous downloading. From we asked IT lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet what the legal situation is about downloading Game of Thrones in the Netherlands. Below are answers:

Question 1. Is it forbidden for Dutch people to download or upload Game of Thrones via torrent networks? 

“Since 2014, it has not been permitted to download films or series from an illegal source in the Netherlands. Uploading has always been prohibited, but the European Court of Justice stated in 2014 that the Netherlands should also make downloading illegal. Since Game of Thrones is not offered via torrent networks with the permission of HBO, it is forbidden to download that series via torrents. ”

Question 2. What legal consequences can downloading or uploading of Game of Thrones have? Are downloaders and uploaders already being tackled by certain authorities?

“As far as I know, HBO does not enforce its copyright against downloaders via torrents. There have been sounds from Dutch Filmworks society, but they have not (yet) taken hold. This organization obviously has no rights to GoT and therefore cannot tackle the prohibition on downloading that series. “

Question 3. Which party is involved in tracing people who download Game of Thrones? And what measures can they take? 

“The ban is based on copyright. That means that a rightholder must sue someone himself. The police do not take action against this. HBO has to go after GoT downloaders, just like Dutch Filmworks goes after people who download their films.

The BREIN foundation has been active in the Netherlands for some fifteen years, representing copyright holders. As an umbrella organization, the foundation acts on behalf of a lot of rightholders at the same time. That is of course more effective. The point is that BREIN focuses on uploaders and forums. By meeting an uploader or forum with links, you can prevent a lot of downloads in one go. If you address a downloader, you can get a ban once. Then you keep going with how many downloaders there are.

However, BREIN cannot currently claim compensation under the law, only HBO can do that itself. This may change in a few years, because there will be a change in the law that will grant parties such as BREIN the right to compensation. But that is still the future. “

Question 4. Some people choose to shield their identity on the internet with solutions such as VPN, for example when they download. How do you expect the use of privacy solutions such as a VPN to develop in the coming years?

“I see an increase in the use of such tools, because people value privacy for a variety of (legitimate) reasons. People also use VPNs to bypass geographic blockades and indeed to be able to download illegally without getting caught. I expect that the latter reason will come up more often if there is more enforcement. On the other hand, people are increasingly taking advantage of legal offerings, although this is specifically difficult at GoT, given the high price of HBO at Ziggo.

My general expectation is that enforcement will continue to focus on uploaders and platforms and that individual downloaders will have little to fear. Possibly Dutch Filmworks actions will change that, but I have to see that again. The point is above all that the damage claim that you can submit to a downloader is so low that it is not worth the costs and effort.

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