Image Source: Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO
What do Infinity Train and House of the Dragon have in common? They’re both popular on torrent sites right now.
On eBay, Infinity Train DVD box sets are being listed for hundreds of dollars now that they are no longer available for sale at places like Amazon and Walmart. The highest listed price is $599, and one auction with still two days remaining has already reached $193. On the iTunes charts, the show has topped the sales charts, just under bonafide hits like Better Call Saul and Rick and Morty. People want to watch Infinity Train—a show about a series of protagonists exploring a seemingly endless train full of bizarre environments, with challenges in each car that help the characters resolve their psychological trauma. They just can’t do it on HBO Max, the streaming service where the show was available until last week.
Have you made a TV show or movie that now can’t be legally watched because of some corporate decision? Are you an archiver of “lost media?” We’d love to hear from you. Contact the reporter at email@example.com or via Signal at 267-713-9832 for extra security.
People also, clearly, want to watch the new HBO Max show House of the Dragon. According to a press release from HBO, the premiere had 10 million viewers. Roughly 15 hours before last weekend’s premiere, the show had already appeared on torrent sites. (This hearkened back to the glory days of Thrones, when detailed spoilers and episode rips were frequently uploaded before the show aired—something that didn’t seem to hurt the show’s popularity at all.) Both Infinity Train and House of the Dragon have a robust presence on torrent sites right now. On the Pirate Bay, the first episode of House of the Dragon has over 200 seeders, and on RARBG it has over 2000. While Infinity Train is much less popular, with just under a hundred seeders, all four seasons are currently being seeded on RARBG, and the fourth and final season has 64 on the Pirate Bay seeders as of this writing.
When Motherboard asked about HBO’s stance on piracy, including piracy of shows no longer available on their platforms, it said, “HBO aggressively protects our programming, but we find it counterproductive to publicly discuss specific tactics.”
Game of Thrones as a show made piracy history, and at one time, over a quarter of a million people were sharing the fifth season finale. It’s not a big surprise that House of the Dragon would attract a huge amount of attention—or be the victim of a leak. But over on the LostMedia subreddit, where people discuss and share media that has otherwise been lost to the sands of time, users are beginning to state the importance of archiving everything in the wake of the HBO Max cancellations and deletions.
“I don’t know what people don’t seem to understand. Lost media becomes lost because people don’t bother archiving it. If it’s available now, don’t assume it magically will be later as well,” one user wrote. “Archive and backup. You should be doing it anyway, as you don’t always know what will be lost, but do it ESPECIALLY if you know something is getting deleted.”
It isn’t an explicit endorsement of piracy, but given the show’s presence on torrent sites right now, and the high price of second-hand DVDs, there’s clearly a demand for Infinity Train in whatever way it can be made available.
For what it’s worth, the creator of Infinity Train, Owen Dennis, approached the topic of piracy in a blog post that didn’t leave his opinions on the subject much of a mystery.
“So the question you have to ask yourself becomes: if a giant corporation has stopped me from having the ability to access my own culture, is it ok for me to watch a copy that doesn’t funnel any money toward them, doesn’t create scarcity of the art, and doesn’t make a mark on some algorithm’s metrics?” Dennis wrote. “Only you can answer that for yourself.”