The pirating of TV shows and movies is running rampant at the moment and the show garnering the most attention is the hugely popular Game of Thrones.

It was the most pirated show of 2012 and its season 3 premiere this year broke the all time record with over a million copies downloaded within 24 hours of it airing on TV.

The piracy of the show has drawn so much attention that even the US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Belich, who admits to being a fan of the show, has called for a stop to it.

“Unfortunately, nearly as epic and devious as the drama, is its unprecedented theft by online viewers around the world,” he said.

Australians are known to be substantial pirates of TV shows as we are often left to wait months after an episode has screened in the US for it to be seen on a commercial network here. The wait is often too much too long, which has led to many networks ‘fastracking’ shows, airing them within 24 hours of their US release. Foxtel is currently doing this for Game of Thrones, which has been extremely successful, resulting in the show being the most watched drama for the service.

As well as this episodes are then made available for purchase on iTunes and Netflix, with the show dominating the iTunes charts.

It has been shown through various studies that if movies and music are easily accessible then people are prepared to pay for them rather than pirate them.

However it appears that Foxtel has used its muscle to put a stop to this by sinking HBO’s deal with other providers to make the show available, meaning that from next year many shows, including Game of Thrones, will only be available on Foxtel.

Journalist John Birmingham summed up Foxtel’s position as follows.

“You figured that by removing a timely and legitimate method for viewers to watch the show within a couple of hours of its US release, you would force a handful of extra punters to take out one of your lousy subscriptions?

Well here’s a slow, sad little golf clap for you, Foxtel.

What you’re actually doing by trying to shore up your monopoly is guaranteeing that a whole heap of viewers who ponied up good, honest money to watch that series by a method other than membership of your exclusive club are now more likely to sign up to channel Bit Torrent.”

I’m inclined to agree with his position, happily handing over 99cents an episode to legitimately purchase it. On the other hand I’m much less likely to hand over $100 a month to Foxtel for a subscription when I only want to watch a few programs.

By removing a legitimate way to purchase the show are Foxtel encouraging people to pirate it instead?