1. Research the movie you want to buy. Find out how many versions have been officially released, what special features they have, and which regions they are encoded for. This will allow you to spot a fake more easily when you're shopping, and it will also give you a better sense of which deals are too good to be true.
For example, genuine Disney DVDs are rarely "Region 0" or "playable in all regions" or "region 1 compatible." If you spot a Disney DVD advertising any of these things, you'll know it's possible that the DVD is not authentic.
2. Look carefully at the covers, both back and front. The cover design should be the same as those for the same movie being sold through a reliable outlet (such as a large retail store), but be sure to compare it with a DVD from the same region, for example a genuine imported version of Disney's Lion King DVD will probably be single disc however the US or UK version will probably be two disc, being single disc does not automatically make it a copy(check for a genuine disney hologram on the front, back or spine of the case). Variations in the cover design should make you suspicious because it's possible that a different cover was printed for pirated copies. If you see any words spelled incorrectly, it's a dead giveaway. Another thing to look for is image quality. Gritty images, matte paper and dull colors indicate that the cover was probably photocopied. THE UPC on the back of the DVD case should only be one color, black. If additional ink colors can be seen overlaid over the black in the UPC, or if there the lines in the UPC are indistinct because the image of the bar code has been re-processed with a halftone screen over it, then most likely the DVD case has been copied and re-printed.
If you're thinking about ordering a DVD that doesn't come with a cover (most often advertised as being a former rental), don't.
The absence of security seals and plastic wraps should also warrant suspicion.
The advertisement of DVD-9 is often thought to be associated with fake DVDs because many official studio releases never advertise this distinction; it's counterfeit distributors who specify it in relation to quality to differentiate their products from lower-quality DVD-5 counterfeits. In general, any advertisement of "quality" is a red flag, as original releases rarely mention it. The exeption here is some genuine Thai DVDs that do mention DVD-9 if they are also released as DVD-5 (DVD-9 is dual layer and as such often has more extra features).
3. Examine the actual DVD if you've already bought it. Chances are, you've played it and the quality is questionable enough for you to be reading this article to make sure. Some additional questions to ask are:
Can you see through the DVD? If you can see through it very well, it is more than likely not authentic, though this is not always the case.
Is it colorful (like blue, gold, or purple instead of silver)? If it is any of the colors listed above, it is most likely not a mass produced DVD.
Hold the DVD up to the light and tilt it to one side. You may be able to see a well known manufacturer's name, such as Maxell. If the disc has a name such as Maxell, then odds are the DVD was a burnable disc, easily available for under £1 ($2), and the disc's contents are counterfeit.
4. Put the DVD into your Personal Computer, in Microsoft Windows click "My Computer," then click your player's drive. It will give you the size of the disc. There should be close to 5 GB used on a single layer or more on a double layer (but this varies depending on running time). Then go through Windows Explorer and right click on various files stored on the DVD to check properties. Look for the creation date. If the DVD is out of print, for example, and the date is recent, something isn't right. HOWEVER, this will probably not work with Disney imported DVDs with copy protection and results may be misleading.
5. Complain to the seller. If it is a store or a business, contact them for a refund. If they refuse, file a report with the Better Business Bureau or your country's equivalent. If it's a street vendor, report them to your local authorities. And if it's an online seller, such as at an auction site, report them to the coordinating party and leave negative feedback. You can also report a seller of counterfeits to the studio's anti-piracy department.
6. If the spine of the DVD is very thin, and the case is opaque, it is probably fake.
7. 7If random messages show up about how bootlegs are illegal, or the colors are distorted, these are messages only the average camera can pick up invisible to the naked eye.
Most counterfeits tend to come from Asia. If you are considering purchasing from an auction and the seller is shipped from Asia, be wary. Look to see what else they're selling and eye the descriptions very carefully. It should be noted though that many vendors from Asia do sell genuine DVDs and it would be unfair (and also possibly illegal) to discriminate against sellers based upon geographic location alone.
If you do purchase a counterfeit DVD from a major online auction, you could report it to the FBI if you live in the USA: it's a federal case, not a local one.
Dodgy products and dodgy people go together, it's unlikely that any vendor on a street corner will be selling a new genuine DVD for half the going price, a very good indicator of a website selling counterfeit is that the site will have been made in a hurry and will have missed things like a proper terms and conditions page, and will almost always have lots of spelling mistakes (or context errors as a spell checker may have been used). Quality Sellers = Quality Products, Shady Sellers = Often Poor Quality Rubbish.