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Game of Thrones illegal downloads targeted by London police in copyright crackdown

One of the most torrented, streamed and downloaded TV series of all time, Game of Thrones, is being specifically highlighted for a crackdown on copyright infringement.

As well as creating an "Infringing Website" list, officers at the Police Intelligent Crime Property Unit (PIPCU) are trying to replace advertising banners on illegal sites with a tailored message.

Related: BitTorrent refutes Game of Thrones piracy claims

Game of Thrones, the hugely popular TV series based on the "A Song of Ice and Fire" books by George R. R. Martin, racked up 4,280,000 illegal downloads for just one episode in its third season.

One reason suggested as to why the show has been pirated so heavily is that HBO, the creator of the series, restricts the streaming of episodes to its own online service, HBO Go.

Rights holders identified a total of 61 websites that provided unauthorised access to the show during its first episode of the new series. In response, PIPCU has sent deterrent notices to those domains, giving the sites the chance to remove the content.

If a domain does not act in time, PIPCU will contact advertisers and demand that all revenue to the infringing site be shut down.

Read more: What was the most downloaded torrent of 2013?

Andy Fyfe, the head of PIPCU, said, "Together we have created a process that first and foremost encourages offenders to change their behaviour so they are operating within the law.

"However, if they refuse to comply we now have the means to persuade businesses to move their advertising to different platforms and, if offending continues, for registrars to suspend the websites."