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Game of Thrones piracy a 'compliment', doesn't hurt sales

An HBO executive says that digital downloads aren't harming DVD sales of the hit show.

The night is dark and full of terrors -- but not for HBO, which says its hit sword-em-up Game of Thrones isn't having its success dampened by digital piracy.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, HBO programming boss Michael Lombardo is quoted as saying that illegal downloads of 'Thrones are "a compliment of sorts".

"The demand is there," the broadcasting bod said, further noting that piracy of the fantasy series, which returned to the UK for a third season last night, "certainly didn't negatively impact DVD sales."

Lombardo confirmed that the show is the network's top-earning programme, despite an estimated 1 million illegal downloads of the third season's flame-throwing premiere.

Lombardo has concerns about digital thievery, however, expressing fear that downloaded versions of Game of Thrones could sacrifice quality. "The production values of this show are so incredible. So I'm hoping that in the purloined different generation of cuts that the show is holding up."

Lombardo's remarks, which automatically earn him a gold star for use of the word 'purloined', don't Tully tally with other rights-holders' approach to online downloads. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) recently persuaded a UK court to make ISPs block access to pirated sites, a move similar to the Pirate Bay blockade that came into effect last year.

Piracy of Game of Thrones is likely to continue. To watch the acclaimed series in the UK you'll need a pricey Sky subscription, while the Blu-ray version of the second series -- which originally aired this time last year -- only came out last month. With season three just warming up, fans without a Sky package will have to download the show illegally if they want to keep up.

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