Millions of Game Of Thrones fans ‘risk legal action’ by streaming online for free
Millions of Game Of Thrones fans “risk legal action” after watching the season 7 finale online for free.
The last episode in this latest seven-episode run, entitled The Dragon And The Wolf, aired on HBO in the United States on Sunday night – and was simultaneously broadcast at 2am on Sky Atlantic.
The finale – the longest episode in Game Of Thrones’ history – was repeated at 9pm on Sky Atlantic.
According to research conducted exclusively for Express.co.uk, more than 7.7 million Game of Thrones fans (77.8 per cent) intended to watch the finale by illegal methods yesterday.
Only one in five fans (22.2 per cent) were deterred from pirating the heavily anticipated season finale following recent arrests, the research sensationally revealed.
Popular comparison site Finder.com, which launched in the UK in February, conducted the survey of more than 2,000 Britons.
It revealed that – at £7.99 per NowTV subscription – this move towards piracy equated to £17.5 million in lost revenue for Game Of Thrones creators HBO and UK broadcaster Sky.
Finder.com CEO Jon Ostler told Express.co.uk, “It’s crazy to see how many people are willing to risk legal action just to watch Game of Thrones for free.
“You can get your Game of Thrones fix with some affordable and legal viewing options, so we’re hoping more people will shop around in order to avoid those pesky pop-ups and viruses.
It’s crazy to see how many people are willing to risk legal action just to watch Game of Thrones for free
“Plus if fewer people pirate, more awesome programmes such as Game of Thrones can be created.”
The crackdown on piracy did appear to deter some Game Of Thrones fans who wanted to stream the series online for free.
More men were deterred by the tougher new legal penalties – as 23.3 per cent of men surveyed said it deterred them from illegally watching the finale compared to 19.5 per cent of women.
Baby boomers have also been deterred the most (30.8 per cent) compared to 22.6 per cent of Gen X and 19.1 per cent of millennials.
The rise in so-called Kodi Boxes has made streaming films and television shows – like Game Of Thrones – an increasingly popular option amongst pirates.
Five million people in the UK use pirated TV streaming services via so-called Kodi Boxes, Amazon Fire TV Chipped Sticks, and illegal streaming apps, according to YouGov data.
Back in May, the Digital Economy Act received royal assent – and increased the maximum jail sentence for copyright infringement in the UK from two to 10 years.
Separately, the European Court of Justice ruled that streaming copyright-protected material without the right-holders permission was illegal.
The combination of this landmark ruling and the increase in sanctions for those who infringe copyright has led some developers to abandon Kodi.
In early June, Kodi fans saw one of the most popular destinations for third-party add-ons removed from the web.
TVAddons, which hosted a number of add-ons that enabled free streaming of copyright-protected material, including paid-for sport fixtures like Mayweather vs McGregor, was taken offline completely.
The finale of Game Of Thrones season 7 aired on HBO and Sky Atlantic on Sunday
Writing on its official blog, Kodi said: “Due to recent legal action against websites and repositories promoting add-ons that use pirated (stolen) media content, many have shut-down their services.
“This is driving a large increase in users complaining in our forums and on social media about their ‘Kodi Box’ no longer working.”
Kodi is a neutral, open-source media player that can be installed on a broad range of devices – from discount set-top boxes powered by Android, to known brands, like Amazon Fire TV Stick.
However, Kodi has gained an unfortunate reputation thanks to the way some third-party developers leverage the platform.
Set-top boxes – built by a variety of different hardware manufacturers – and sold with the Kodi media player preinstalled alongside a number of add-ons and plugins designed to facilitate piracy are colloquially referred to as Kodi Boxes.
A number of arrests have already been made in the ongoing crackdown on so-called Kodi Boxes.
Police arrested a 53 year-old man and seized a stash of some 40 Android-powered set-top boxes preloaded with the Kodi media plater and other third-party software back in July.
A man was arrested and the so-called Kodi Boxes were taken away. The devices were being sold online for some £100 per unit.
According to Westminster Council, an investigation had revealed that the set-top boxes were preloaded with third-party Kodi add-ons that allowed owners to stream copyrighted content, including premium television channels, movies and sport, for free.
Earlier in the month, Derbyshire Police executed a warrant at a property in Derby as part of its ongoing crackdown on devices that enable viewers to illegally stream subscription services.
The warrant was obtained as part of a joint investigation with anti-piracy body FACT.
A large amount of cash was seized during the warrant, along with various pieces of electronic equipment.
A 29-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of fraud, money laundering and copyright offences and has been released under investigation while inquiries continue.
Speaking at the time, FACT CEO Kieron Sharp said: “This collaboration between Derbyshire police and FACT is another step forward in disrupting the sale of illegal streaming devices.
“People may think there is nothing wrong with having one of these devices and streaming premium pay-for channels for free, such as live sports.
“However this is illegal and you would be breaking the law.
“Don’t be fooled by devices that offer you the latest Hollywood films and premium pay-for-view sports for no charge.
“If you want to watch this kind of content we strongly advise you go directly to the official provider to ensure you don’t fall foul of the law.”
Earlier this month, four people were arrested for leaking an episode of Game Of Thrones before it was aired.
The four people from India were taken into custody earlier this week with police saying they are accused of criminal breach of trust and computer-related offences.
Speaking to the AFP news agency Deputy Commissioner of Police Akbar Pathan said: “We investigated the case and have arrested four individuals for unauthorised publication of the fourth episode from season seven,”
The case was filed by a Mumbai-based company who are responsible for processing and storing the TV episodes for an app, local media said.
Those arrested were all company employees who possessed the necessary credentials to access episodes before the air date.
According to research commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office, some 7 million Britons are now guilty of online piracy – with 13 per cent of those using a modified set-top box to stream copyrighted material.