Forget torrent sites, Sidereel, or Popcorn Time. On April 12, the 5th season of Game of Thrones premiered on Cable TV – and on Periscope, a Twitter-owned live streaming app that has further alarmed HBO after being hit with record-breaking piracy rates and an unprecedented leak .
Hundreds of users reportedly watched the return of the blood-soaked Cable TV series on their cellphones using a live streaming app. However, HBO declared Periscoping as a “mass copyright infringement.”
HBO had been known in taking a rather cold stance towards Game of Thrones piracy until recently, and by adding Periscope to the equation, the cable channel is now facing a tricky situation.
With unauthorized live streaming, Periscope presents a new breed of piracy. There are no torrents, no files, no DVDs, not even a flash drive. Thus, even though HBO has sent takedown notices to Periscope over the unauthorized Game of Thrones screening, there is nothing to “take down.”
To illustrate, online platforms are not held responsible for what their users are posting in them under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). But the act allows right holders to send take down notices (e.g. YouTube) to platform owners if there are any complaints that require them to get rid of the infringing content. The problem with Periscope is that there’s virtually nothing to remove.
Another aspect is that Periscope is live, which means that by the time HBO has filed the takedown notices, the requests only apply to users who have archived the stream for later viewing.
There are other gray areas such as, what if the user streams the episode live to a private audience (e.g. home taping) after it airs? Or, what if the user is streaming the episode live for critiquing? The issue now transcends as to whether Periscope can be transformational or not.