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'Game of Thrones': Joffrey wedding crowns new piracy record

The Purple Wedding sent Game of Thrones fans rushing to file-sharing services to illegally download the HBO hit's latest shocking episode. Sunday's episode "The Lion and the Rose" broke torrent records, according to piracy-tracking blog TorrentFreak. About 1.5 million people worldwide downloaded the episode during the first day available, and nearly 200,000 users shared a single copy of the episode.

"These are unprecedented numbers — never before have 193,418 people shared a single file simultaneously," the blog reported. "The previous record was set last year, when the season finale of Game of Thrones had 171,572 people sharing on a single tracker."

For HBO, Sunday's episode delivered 8 million viewers across three replays, down only slightly from the show's record-setting fourth-season premiere the previous week.

Last year, HBO's programming president Michael Lombardo told EW that piracy "is a compliment of sorts. The demand is there. And it certainly didn't negatively impact the DVD sales. [Piracy is] something that comes along with having a wildly successful show on a subscription network."

When we recently revisited this subject, however, Lombardo took a somewhat more disapproving stance: "Obviously we're aggressive; we try to shut down piracy where it occurs. It's something we continue to be on top of and police."

UPDATE: HBO released this statement: "There are numerous anti-theft tools we utilize and we have significantly shrunk the international distribution window for original programming to practically correspond with the US premiere. Unfortunately, with popularity comes piracy. Good news is Game of Thrones continues to grow significantly and tens of millions are watching the series legally around the world."

Entertainment Weekly, April 15, 2014 (James Hibberd)

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