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A guide by rainbowjam 


With the sheer amount of DVDs for sale on eBay there are always bound to be a fair few which are not what the inexperienced buyer is expecting. So how can you tell and what do the different terms for dodgy DVDs actually mean?


I myself don't sell illegal DVDs of any description but I do have over 20 years experience of selling music and entertainment items on all formats. I always have hundreds of DVDs and CDs listed in my eBay shop which are all 100% legitimate and are mainly £4.99 Buy-It-Now. So if you want a safe and easy purchase, visit my shops at http://stores.ebay.co.uk/rainbowjam and http://stores.ebay.co.uk/rainbowtrax. Well, that's the plug over; now back to the matter in hand.




These are probably the worst kind of dodgy DVD as they are being passed off as official, often current, items. They are illegal, generally poor quality, DVDs which are an exact copy of a legitimate DVD. Virtually any current popular film will have been pirated in vast quantities; pirate copies are often sold at larger well-established car boot sales and also by dodgy eBay sellers. They are difficult to spot on an eBay listing as the seller will be pretending they are the real thing so someone who is selling pirate DVDs can only really be spotted once the negatives start to roll in. So, always check feedback before you buy. Once you're holding the pirate DVD in your hand, they're easy to spot (although, if you've bought it on eBay, it's a bit late by then). A pirate will look like the real thing at first glance but, on closer inspection of the artwork, it's easy to spot the poor quality of the printing and often a slight difference in shades of colour and also the lack of serial numbers around the inside rim. Also the quality and cut of the paper used for the inserts will usually be noticeably sub-standard. The disc itself will have poor quality, strangely printed or missing details on the label side and will usually be a DVD-R rather than a "proper" DVD.




This is just another term for pirate DVDs: an illegal sub-standard DVD-R copy of an officially released DVD. Sometimes people will openly offer a copied (pirated) DVD for sale and state that it is legal to buy as a back-up if you already own a legitimate version, thus placing the onus on you to remain within the law (or not). Whatever they tell you and regardless of whether you and / or they own legitimate issues of the DVD in question, it's illegal for them to sell it and for you to buy it. It's just a common misinterpretation of the law that sellers of dodgy goods try to use to their advantage.  Copied DVDs sold as back-ups will usually be sold in a plastic wallet without artwork or case, will often have a blank label and will be DVD-Rs of the same sort of standard as a pirate being passed off as legitimate.




These are unofficial (ie: illegal) DVDs which contain recordings which are not, and have never been, officially available for sale on DVD. They often contain material that has previously been available on video but has not yet had a DVD release and are more commonly old TV series rather than films. There is a large collectors' market for bootlegs as they contain material which has never been legally released so can be very attractive to anyone trying to get hold of some TV programme from their dim and distant past. A lot of buyers are happy to buy bootlegs as there is no legal way of obtaining the material on them so opinion is divided as to whether they do any harm. Obviously, with more and more old TV series being given official DVD releases, the demand for a certain bootleg title can vanish overnight. Recent examples of this include Adam Faith's Budgie TV series and kids' series, Grange Hill. However, it's still illegal and in breach of eBay rules so eBay are constantly removing any listings which are reported to them that offer bootlegs for sale. Ebay has it's own VeRO (Verified Rights Owner) programme which film companies can join - you can view a list of some VeRO members in the Movies, Television & Radio category and check out their individual policies. There will always be bootlegs on eBay though as there are so many offered for sale that they can never all be removed at any given time. So, how to spot them? The seller is hardly going to spread the word "bootleg" liberally through their title and description.


  • They are more likely to be described as "unofficial" or something similar and will often not include a picture.

  • Sometimes the picture will just be a photo of the main star of the show in question rather than a picture of the DVD.

  • Your local DVD shop won't be able to supply it or find any record of it's release.

  • The item description is likely to be vague and generally lacking in detail but mentions the quality of the picture and recording.


If you're at all unsure of what you may be bidding on then ask the seller for clarification. If you don't receive a clear reply regarding the legality of the DVD and its contents then you've got your answer! But if you're looking for a watchable recording of an unreleased TV programme, are happy with a bootleg and don't want to wait around to see if it ever gets a legal release then check the seller's feedback first to try and guage how good the quality is likely to be.


Well, thanks for taking the time to read my guide - hope it's been of some interest; if so then please register a yes vote and take a look at my other guides. Don't forget to visit my eBay shop for hundreds of 100% official Buy-It-Now CDs and DVDs, most at just £4.99. I offer speedy delivery and reasonable postage rates; check out my feedback before you buy. If you like my items, please add me to your favourites list.


Best regards, rainbowjam


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