Game of Thrones Leak
"Game of Thrones" fans were able to watch the premiere Sunday night through live-streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat, rather than owning a HBO subscription or illegally downloading. Helen Sloan/HBO

“Game of Thrones” fans did not need a cable package, a television or even a laptop to watch the Season 5 premiere live. As expected, Sunday’s episode was live-streamed via the mobile apps Periscope and Meerkat.

Twitter Inc., which owns Periscope, responded to Bloomberg's request for comment by saying, “Periscope’s content policy expressly prohibits broadcasting copyright-protected content.” Violating copyright could lead to a user’s account being shut down permanently. This punishment should not come as a surprise. Periscope’s terms of service and Meerkat’s both state that users must not violate copyright and that the companies have the right to remove the content and terminate a user’s account.

To trigger a review, a user must flag the material, either through the app or on the site. But for legal action to be taken, a complaint must be filed by the copyright holder. These piracy concerns do not seem to be a pressing issue for companies, however. A representative for the Motion Picture Association of America told the National Journal that Hollywood is more concerned with larger pirating operations, where offenders distribute the content for profit. For HBO, concern surrounds the leak of the first four episodes to “Game of Thrones” Season 5.

Periscope and Meerkat provide low-quality viewing, but they allow users to view comments with friends or other followers in real time. Therefore, the apps provide convenience and conversation. Periscope allows for replay of streams, so anyone who streamed the episode could have it on their feed for 24 hours. That is not the case for Meerkat, where videos disappear immediately.