The most recent episode of HBO's blockbuster series Game of Thrones was leaked online a day early. Ironically, it was HBO itself that was the source of the leak, which emanated from the Nordic arm of the pay channel, which accidentally posted it online prior to its official airing.

HBO has gone to great lengths this year to protect its most popular series, Game of Thrones, from leaking online prior to airing in its usual Sunday night time slot. In 2015, an unqualified disaster occurred when the first four episodes of Game of Thrones leaked online in their entirety, even before the first one had officially debuted. Millions of illegal downloads of the show were reportedly sourced from various torrent sites, where fans of the series could access the pirated content.

This year, HBO took the unprecedented step of not releasing any advance screener copies of the show to the press for review, instead opting to hold a Hollywood invitation-only viewing party where select critics could watch the show in advance.

HBO has been particularly vigilant in scouring the Internet for illegal downloads of Game of Thrones episodes that have already aired, with some uploads reportedly disappearing from pirate sites only minutes after being posted. The network has even attempted to censor spoilers posted on the Web revealing upcoming plot points and other details about the show.

So, it's certainly ironic that this year's biggest leak of a Game of Thrones episode comes from the network itself. HBO's Nordic arm accidentally posted the latest episode of the show a day early on its website, and it was quickly copied by pirates who leaked the show online. The initial copies of the episode were low quality, but eventually, a 1080p version surfaced, and thousands of pirated copies were downloaded as word spread on the Internet that the leak had occurred.

"This past Sunday's episode was made available early on the HBO Nordic platform temporarily due to a technical issue, at which time it seems to have been copied. Upon learning of the incident, we used the available means to limit further access to the episode," a spokesperson of HBO said.

Once a leak like this occurs, however, there's really not much anyone can do to stop it from spreading like wildfire, especially with such a hot show as Game of Thrones. Fortunately for the network, the leak was only a day early, which limited some of the damage that might have occurred had it been further in advance of the show's actual air date.

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