Avoiding illegal/fake DVDs on Ebay

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Fakes/copies/bootlegs/illegal DVDs are rife on Ebay, unfortunately. And many Ebayers come to the community boards worried about leaving negs when they have bought one of these under the impression they were buying a legal/official DVD.

The following are a few tips to help you avoid the dodgy DVD sellers

a) Boxsets, particularly TV. For some series - particularly more expensive ones like The Wire, most listings on Ebay are Chinese fakes. The covers are different (although many sellers will improperly use the cover of the legal R1 versions when selling) BUT you need to look for comments on Chinese characters, removeable subtitles etc. If you see The Wire with Chinese characters on the front, it is a bootleg. No ifs, buts and maybes. Multiple Disney sets are also a common area for fraud on the site (although Disney will finally be bringing a legal one out next month - 10 films for about £100).

b) Region free/region 0. It is easy to find out if a film/DVD has been released in the UK - the BBFC (website available) is the UK classification body. Checking here - or at other sites like Sendit - will tell you if there IS or has been a region 2 release. If it hasn't been released here - but the listing claims it has - enquire further. E.g. DVDs are not, in general, released in this country with Asian subtitles.

If the listing doesn't say region 2 but claims it will play on your machine (or explicitly states it is region free/region 0) - then look a little further.

There are some imprints that will release in region 0/region free - some Criterion, Anchor Bay and Tartan releases come like this. ALL can be checked back to their individual sites to confirm though, as not all are released in this way.

Older films/documentaries/general interest - all may get a region free release.

But if you are looking at a brand new film, region free/0 - fake. No question.

c) Although DTS is a DVD standard, it is generally highlighted on releases from Far East sites - many produce legit looking covers with DTS Digital Surround Sound in a bar across the top where most DVDs, if they have features, will say widescreen. But with few extra features the copiers hype this to seem more legit

d) Amazingly the bootleg artists try to badmouth other formats. Fakes used to be mainly DVD5 - now they seem to be DVD9. If the listing mentions either, you should avoid. Also, any mention of DVD R simply means someone is trying to set up their own little cottage industry.

e) Use the tools Ebay give you. Review sellers feedback, and feedback left. Where are they located? Sad for them, but sellers claiming to be located in the UK but registered in Malaysia are not likely to be selling a legal product - so always check where they are registered. High P&P costs can also indicate shipping to the UK (or just a seller trying it on!).

I've looked at the purchases made by people who come to the community boards to complain - in most cases, with a bit of common sense, and a quick check on available sites, it is obvious that it was fakes that were being purchased. Using some of the hints above should help those who don't wish to purchase these fakes.


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