What’s going to happen in episode 4? It turns out that some people already know the answer. Earlier today, the fourth episode of the seventh season of Game of Thrones leaked online. You may think that it’s related to HBO’s recent hack — but it’s not.
When HBO got hacked, the hackers claimed that they managed to acquire the script of this week's Game of Thrones episode. But nobody mentioned anything about the episode itself.
According to Gizmodo, a Reddit user shared the episode using Google Drive. The post has been taken down since then. But sharing is caring, so there are now dozens of BitTorrent files with this episode in the wild.
The file itself is a low quality video, but it appears to be an unaired episode of Game of Thrones indeed. There’s one thing that indicates that this video isn’t coming from this week’s hack. The video is watermarked with Star India’s logo.
Star India is one of HBO’s international distribution partners. Some employees receive Game of Thrones episodes a bit early so that they can air it at the same time as HBO. This file in particular wasn’t meant to be shared or aired as it features a watermark.
Today’s hack illustrates why you get these ugly watermarks when you’re watching a movie on a plane. Movie production companies don’t want to see their beautiful creations on a BitTorrent website. This way, content owners can directly trace back the source of the leak.
Both HBO and Star India told The Verge that the leak was coming from Star India. HBO is going to be just fine. You just don’t want to be handling the relationship with HBO for Star India right now.
And watermarks are definitely here to stay. Even music composer Hans Zimmer got an early copy of Dunkirk with a huge “HZ” watermark — that’s how freaked out movie studios are.