The Internet is laden with pirated TV shows and movies, and it turns out that the 10 most pirated shows of 2013 are also among the most viewed.
But for anyone caught illegally downloading one of these shows, the consequences can potentially be quite costly.
So which shows made it onto the Top 10 most-pirated list? And how can illegally downloading these shows make a pirate's 2014 anything but tops?
The Top 10 Pirated Shows Are...
According to TorrentFreak, based on estimated downloads through BitTorrent, these were the top 10 most pirated TV shows of the year:
- "Game of Thrones" (HBO)
- "Breaking Bad" (AMC)
- "The Walking Dead" (AMC)
- "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS)
- "Dexter" (Showtime)
- "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS)
- "Suits" (USA)
- "Homeland" (Showtime)
- "Vikings" (History Channel)
- "Arrow" (CW)
You may notice that many of these shows are on premium cable channels such as HBO and Showtime, with the remainder on standard cable packages (History Channel, AMC, and USA) and broadcast networks (CBS and the CW).
"Game of Thrones" tops the list as the most pirated show of 2013, likely because when it first aired, it was nearly impossible to find by any legal means -- unless you paid for HBO's cable service (as playfully illustrated here). Despite these frustrations with content providers, pirating TV shows or movies can still lead to hefty consequences.
Consequences of Pirating TV Shows
Though the latest shows are often just a quick click and torrent away, the copyright holders of those shows are more than willing to sick their legal hounds on you for copyright infringement. Under fedreal copyright law, damages of "not less than $750 or more than $30,000" per pirated work are possible.
Although the prosecution of casual Internet downloaders has subsided since the Napster days, downloading a few shows can still end with you owing far more than its retail cost in penalty or settlement fees.
It can also be a serious liability for college students who use their dorm room Internet connection, thinking the school will shield them. Wrong-o! Universities and Internet companies have become very adept at offering up offending IP addresses to pirate hunters so that they can find the individual responsible.
Legal Alternatives to TV Piracy
So if you want to catch up on "Game of Thrones," start making friends with someone that has HBOGo.