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US ambassador engages critics after Game of Thrones piracy plea

US Ambassador Bleich has said that piracy is no more a compliment than someone "hitting on your partner", and asked that we, like Lannisters, "always pay our debts".

US Ambassador Bleich has said that piracy is no more a compliment than someone "hitting on your partner", and asked that we, like Lannisters, "always pay our debts".

Lannister's pay their debts and, according to US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich, so should we. (Credit: HBO)

Last week, the US ambassador to Australia made headlines around the world when he asked for Australians to stop "stealing" the HBO show Game of Thrones.

If the comments seen on CNET Australia can be taken as a guideline, it seems that many people took umbrage with His Excellency and his forthright opinions. Now, Ambassador Bleich has returned to Facebook to address some of the responses to his initial post.

While the ambassador seems to have a fairly strong constitution, he did note that while he encourages a frank exchange of ideas, perhaps a little less outright abuse would be preferable next time.

Ambassador Bleich broke down the comments of his critics into five key categories, addressing each one.

Regarding whether this was really a topic for a US ambassador to be speaking about, Bleich quoted a Washington Post report that the pay-TV industry in America estimated that it loses US$1 billion in Asia, making this a serious financial issue on a global scale.

In the section that talks about whether piracy can really be regarded as stealing, Ambassador Bleich said:

Think of it this way: no one would argue that it's legal (or moral) to slip into a movie theatre and watch a movie without paying for your ticket (even if a seat was empty and the theatre still had the movie afterward). That's basically what you do when you illegally download a video. Stealing is the word that comes to most people's minds when you use something that's not yours without permission and without paying for it.

On the fact that HBO programming president Michael Lombardo called piracy "a compliment, of sorts":

Illegal immigration is a sort of compliment, too (it means people would rather live in your country than theirs), and so is having someone hit on your partner (because it means they find him/her attractive). The fact that something is a perverse form of compliment doesn't mean that it is acceptable or desirable.

And finally, regarding whether the distributors are making it too difficult for people to legally purchase digital entertainment in a timely fashion, Ambassador Bleich reiterated his initial post. "That isn't an excuse, any more than saying 'I'd have bought the book if it weren't quicker and cheaper to steal it from the person next door'."

He acknowledged that there are still some hiccups when it comes to digital distribution methods across international markets, but asked that:

[...] while they are working out the kinks, we shouldn't be doing something that hurts people who work in the entertainment industry. The market and political pressures will solve many of the issues people raised, but we have to show some restraint while that sorts out.

In the end, Ambassador Bleich made a rather impassioned plea:

I'd just ask that the next time one of us considers illegally downloading a copyrighted work, we remember (and actually follow) the Lannister family code: "A Lannister always pays his debts."