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BitTorrent refutes Game of Thrones piracy claims

BitTorrent Inc has asserted that it is not responsible for the record level of pirated downloads of the Game of Thrones season 3 finale.

“It’s literally impossible to 'illegally download something on BitTorrent.'” wrote Matt Mason, Vice President of Marketing at BitTorrent, Inc., in his 25 June blog entry.

The season 3 finale of HBO's Game of Thrones was downloaded illegally by 5.2 million people worldwide. The season's first episode had been the previous record holder.

Mason was reacting to claims such as "The season finale of Game of Thrones has set a new BitTorrent record with more than 170,000 people sharing an episode simultaneously, " found on the TorrentFreak website.

He insisted that piracy is something that happens "outside the BitTorrent ecosystem."

Mason's objection rests on distinguishing between BitTorrent's own sanctioned services and other use of its products. BitTorrent's website has no general torrent index or search engine. The only torrents that can be downloaded from BitTorrent itself are those that have been licensed legally.

"We don't host infringing content. We don't point to it. It's literally impossible to 'illegally download something on BitTorrent.' To pirate stuff, you need more than a protocol. You need search, a pirate content site, and a content manager. We offer none of those things. If you're using BitTorrent for piracy, you're doing it wrong," wrote Mason.

However it is also true that the 5.2 million downloads of Game of Thrones were achieved using BitTorrent's software or other programs that use the open source protocol.

The final episode had a peak of 171,572 swarm members compared to the 163,088 of the season opener. The second season of Game of Thrones was the record holder for 2012.

Earlier this year, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo called the illegal downloading "a compliment of sorts," and stated that it didn't have any negative effect on DVD sales.

What then is officially the most popular BitTorrent download? According to Mason it is Epic Meal Time with 8,626,987 downloads. Pride of place goes not to the acclaimed George R. R. Martin fantasy series but to a cooking show renowned for its use of bacon and Jack Daniels as primary ingredients.