Game's up: four arrested in connection with HBO leak

Four people have been arrested in India in relation to the online leak of a Game of Thrones episode.

Star India, the Rupert Murdoch-owned pay television platform in the country, which is the major HBO broadcast partner in the region, confirmed the arrests to media today.

The four people were "current or former" employees of a data management vendor, Prime Focus Technologies, which has a contract with Star India.

The four have been charged with criminal breach of trust and computer-related offences; they have not been named by media.

Danaerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

Danaerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

It is alleged they are responsible for the leak of the fourth episode of the seventh season of Game of Thrones, which was released online without authorisation.

A link to the episode was posted to the internet forum Reddit two days before the episode was scheduled to be broadcast; it was swiftly removed however copies had already begun circulating online.

The leaked copy had Star India's watermark on it.

Star India issued a statement today praising the "swift and prompt action" of the police.

"We believe that valuable intellectual property is a critical part of the development of the creative industry and strict enforcement of the law is essential to protecting it," the statement said.

Though the outcomes are similar - that is, key HBO content leaked online ahead of broadcast - the case is not connected to the larger recent HBO hacking event.

The hacking event, which took place in late July, involves the theft of approximately 1.5 terabytes of data.

In the wake of that, several Game of Thrones scripts, and completed or partially completed episodes of television series, including Ballers, Insecure and Room 104, have surfaced online.

A subsequent unauthorised release of HBO content included episodes of the upcoming new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The hackers have also released email correspondence from HBO's senior executives.

Among those emails was an attempt to negotiate a $US250,000 payment to the hackers; in that exchange HBO asked for more time to assess the situation and to find a way of paying the hackers in "bitcoin", the digital currency.

"You have the advantage of having surprised us; in the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week," one HBO executive said in an email.

So far no full episodes of HBO's most valuable asset - the fantasy series Game of Thrones - have been leaked as a result of the hacking event, though scripts and upcoming storyline documents have.

In a statement issued to US media, HBO said they were "not in communication with the hacker and ... not going to comment every time a new piece of information is released."

"The hacker may continue to drop bits and pieces of stolen information in an attempt to generate media attention; that's a game we're not going to participate in."

The HBO hack comes in the wake of a number of digital security breaches in Hollywood, notably the large-scale hack of Sony Pictures in 2014.

The story Game's up: four arrested in connection with HBO leak first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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