Google Takes on Game of Thrones Torrents in a Trial by Combat!
Google has claimed to be fighting against online piracy, especially against torrent sites linking to Game of Thrones torrents – but who is winning this Trial by Combat?
Google’s relatively new ranking algorithm has been designed to downrank less legitimate results (like torrent sites), as compared with official results (like the HBO website).
One of the ways the algorithm does this is by now serving new ad formats for film queries which contain works like “free”, “watch”, or download:
The ads that show up in the knowledge graph are for paid streaming sites (Amazon, Google Play, & Now TV) which do not have any of the season 5 episodes!? How this is supposed to dissuade users from searching for torrents of the latest episodes?
Google is like Eddard Stark – failing to do the honourable thing
When Eddard Stark confessed to treason to save his children, he by his own admission committed a dishonourable act. Similarly Google’s attempts to crack down on piracy, though an act seemingly made with good intentions, is one that also denies users the results that they are truly searching for.D
Users who are searching for “download game of thrones free” aren’t going to be looking for paid results, but the aim of this algorithmic update isn’t to better serve the user, it’s to help curtail online piracy. This objective is in stark contrast to Google’s main goal which is to serve users with the results that they are searching for.
Would Game of Thrones have become so popular if it had not been pirating?
When Game of Thrones was originally released, the only legitimate way to view the show was to own a cable subscription to HBO (which can cost as much as $100 per month). For someone who only wants to watch one season, that’s far too expensive. One could argue that if it was not for the availability of the show via torrent sites – that the show would not have reached the level of popularity that it has enjoyed up till now, and may not have reached the fifth season.
Without the millions of viewers who have been able to gain access to the show through piracy, would the show have built up such a loyal following? A following of fans who are prepared to pay to see screenings of episodes of the show at the cinema?
Nevertheless, HBO has warned users through their service providers not to download episodes of the show illegally.