By: Peter Cruice

In July 2017, HBO’s Game of Thrones TV series had launched its newest season opener, but the rise of illegal streaming produced serious back lash by HBO. According to MUSO, a piracy monitoring firm, the season opener was pirated an estimated 91.74 times around. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects internet service provides from liability for copyright infringement by their users, if the provider meets certain statutory requirements. HBO initially sent notices to the internet providers of the illegal streamers in order to make them stop. However, this proved unsuccessful. The users who violate the DMCA are not protected from liability, but efforts to find and stop these individuals has been difficult.

One of the major reasons of the increase of illegal streaming is that many of the streamers are not located within the United States. HBO’s cord cutting subscription based service, HBO Now, is only available in the U.S. HBO Now allows users who don’t have a cable package to watch HBO subscription based content right from their computers or third-party streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV, and Kindle Fire. This is great for people who live in the U.S., but what about the millions of people who want to watch outside the United States? These users have turned to illegal streaming and downloading of the subscription based content. They have violated the DMCA, but it has been very difficult to catch the users.

HBO has been going after the people who have been illegally downloading and streaming their paid subscription services, but have run into issues. These illegal streamers are more difficult to track than ever before due to the content being encrypted. This allows many users and streaming providers to make it almost impossible to determine who is streaming and or sharing each particular content. What is the best solution? Many believe that an affordable subscription based streaming service that isn’t regulated to just the U.S. will be a start, but the ongoing problem of illegal streaming will continue. It has not been mentioned before, but a free service of HBO’s subscription based content with advertisements could be a possibility, however these illegal streamers will continue to violate the DMCA, and if caught will be subject to criminal penalties. These illegal streamers will continue to be violators of the DMCA unless there is a worldwide affordable service, or unless they are caught.

Student Bio: Peter Cruice is a 3L at Suffolk University Law School. He is currently a staff member of The Journal of High Technology. Peter holds a B.A. from Hobart College.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are the views of the author alone and do not represent the views of JHTL or Suffolk University Law School.

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