The purpose of this guide is to help you identify a counterfeit DVD.. which can be very difficult at times. I'm aiming this guide at how to spot a fake on eBay, but it can apply to buying from websites as well.
Firstly, forget what you think you know.. or at least be prepared to consider that it's not as easy as you might think. We often have preconceived ideas of what a copy looks like, the bad news is that there is no single thing that points to a copy.
To get an idea of how difficult it can be, consider the following.
Hologram.. forget it! Many genuine DVDs don't have them and most quality copies do.
Quality of Printing and Packaging.. err, not really, the latest Chinese copies have perfect printing and superior quality packaging when compared to many genuine budget releases of the same title.
Spelling Errors on the Packaging..Nope..the fakers are getting better in this respect, yet many high quality genuine releases that are sourced in Asia still have spelling errors on the box.
Region Code on Box and Actual Region Code Differ..This can be a good indicator, often copies will state that they are Region 1 yet the DVD itself is All-Region, BUT I have seen genuine DVDs that state they are Region 3 yet are actually All-Region, so be careful.
Country of Origin: This can be useful, but not decisive. A lot of eBay seller (myself included) sell genuine DVDs that are often shipped from overseas, even from countries that are traditionally considered to be "dodgy" such as Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and even Mainland China. By itself, the fact that a DVD is posted from an Asian country does NOT indicate a copy, though you may wish to consider it alongside other factors.
Feedback on eBay.. Very useful, if lots of people are complaining about getting copies then it goes a long way towards determining the authenticity of that sellers goods, BUT I have seen sellers of genuine DVDs get negative comments about athenticity for some of the reasons above when the DVDs have in fact been genuine! Look for good feedback with bad comments, these "positive negatives" are often used by buyers of fake goods. Comments like 'DVD was a copy, but works fine' with a positive rating are common.
Now, my advice on how to best tell if a listing is for an authentic DVD or a copy.
- Be careful when a vendor is offering a DVD that has not been released on DVD, ask the seller who the distributor is and check the distributors website.. occasionaly DVDs are on genuine release overseas when they have not been released at home. A seller of copy DVD will avoid a direct answer to the question!
- Ask the seller directly, "is this a licenced DVD or a bootleg", very few sellers of fake DVDs will even bother to answer you and they will use "political" answers that avoid the actual question.
- The price can be an indicator, but not on it's own. If a DVD costs 12.99 in the UK and a seller is offering the same title with a buy_now price for 2.99 then it's highly probable that it's a copy..but take a moment to ask, as there may be a legitimate reason for it's low price.
- If the image of the DVD looks like it's been grabbed from Amazon then ask the seller for a photo of the actual DVD.
- It's as much about what the seller does not say as what the seller says... try to read between the lines, but ask for confirmation of any info that you feel is left out.
When the DVD arrives, if you suspect that it's a copy then contact the seller and explain why you think it's not real, a genuine seller will always take the time to answer your questions. Ask who the licenced distributor is and contact them if appropriate, or check their website which may include an image of the DVD.
Notes: This guide deals only with the issue of athenticity and not the wider issues of licencing restrictions, for example a DVD may be licenced for sale only in Canada..but if it's sold in the UK it does not make it a copy.