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Canadians among top illegal downloaders of ‘Game of Thrones’

More people than ever are watching the new season of Game of Thrones – but not all viewers are paying for the privilege.
This file image released by HBO shows Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in a scene from "Game of Thrones.". AP Photo/HBO, Helen Sloan, File

TORONTO – More people than ever are watching the new season of Game of Thrones – but not all viewers are paying for the privilege.

Pirates downloaded Game of Thrones content more than 32 million times since the first four episodes were leaked in the days leading up to the season premiere, according to analysis done by Torrent Freak and Tru Optik, an American media intelligence company which tracked the downloads.

The company tracked more than 32 million downloads by approximately 18 million IP addresses during the first week, according to Torrent Freak.

And Canadians were among the top pirates. Canada ranked eighth on the list of downloading nations with 4.1 per cent of all downloads, ahead of Australia and Spain but behind the United States which ranked first with 10.5 per cent of all downloads.

The season premiere nabbed a record nearly eight million viewers but HBO coffers may still be a little light due to the piracy. One estimate, by Tru Optik, posits the company lost nearly $44 million in revenue due to the high level of downloading.

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HBO executives had previously called the high levels of piracy a “compliment” but may be changing their tune. HBO lawyers recently sent cease and desist letters to a New York bar which was holding viewing parties as well as to the Twitter-owned live-streaming app Periscope where some users had been streaming the show.

Global News has reached out to HBO about Game of Thrones piracy but has not received a response.

Downloading television shows is illegal in Canada but few people have ever been punished. New rules regulating how people are notified when they’re suspected to have infringed upon a copyright went into effect in January and require Internet providers notify suspect downloaders if asked by the copyright owner.

The notices are generally effective at stopping illegal downloading but don’t have the authority to demand payment.

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