How to spot counterfeit Beatles 2009 Remaster CD or Box

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This guide refers in particular to the individual remastered stereo discs sold separately, but the points about general quality and finishing apply to all remaster formats.  I've added a para about the mono box at the bottom.

The Beatles are probably the most ripped off band in the world, so it's no surprise that the counterfeiters fell on the excellent and critically acclaimed remastered re-release of 2009 with glee.  With the near extinction of High St 'record shops' (in the UK at least) it has been easy for the pirateers to sell their wares through online channels with near impunity. Unfortunately some of them are appearing on e-bay, sometimes from unsuspecting resellers.  The one remaining reputable High Street seller should be a safe bet to buy from because they have long established supply chains with record labels and legitimate CD wholesalers.

Obvious buyers wisdom might steer you away from a seller who have a job lot of a particular title, especially the less popular releases, similarly a Video CD ROM containing all the accompanying videos might be regarded as a clue when it's not with one of the boxed editions.  You probably won't notice any loss of quality in the music but it's there, or not if you see what I mean.  Bare in mind these CDs are a premium plus product made to very high production standards and that any imperfection is a definite pointer that things aren't right. Although some production and finishing flaws might get through quality control on the packaging the disc should be A1. 

For a start, genuine EMI discs don't come in a flimsy plastic sleeve of the sort found with data CD-R!  (Actually, the one let down of the stereo remasters is that there is no inner sleeve, genuine mono box albums have a clear plastic envelope around each mini-LP album and a period reproduction anti-stat lined paper inner sleeve within).  On the label side of the disc, the print area should come right down almost to the spindle hole, about 3mm, not stop someway short to leave a clear or silver area around the hole like a data CD-R.  Most importantly, the silver side has 'manufactured by optimal media production' etched around the centre, the EAN (repeated on the label side), a sequence issue number (not on the label) and what looks like a scannable bar code.

The stereo outer sleeve is a glossy tri-fold out made from UK LP grade card.  On the inside the flaps are stuck down at the folds.  On those albums that have one big picture splashed across the inside, such as Sgt Pepper or Yellow Submarine the image is printed across the flaps and the folds, without a white line down the middle.  Some albums extend this big picture across the CD pocket cutaway as well, others just have block colour.  It's harder to spot when there are two images on the inside because the border will be on the fold.  The resolution of the pictures is excellent, there should be no loss of image because of darkness (such as you might get with a scanned copy).  See the photo below of genuine and counterfeit stereo Magical Mystery Tour.  Even in scrunched up eBay vision you can see how much darker the fake one is and how it shows all the faults listed above.  fake above true below.  Notice darkness of fake image, lack of under printing and large clear area around CD hub.

If the CD is sealed it should have a rectangular or circular sticker telling you it's a limited edition.  Again, if sealed there should be a folded flyer inside advertising the rest of the Remastered series.

Pirated CDs are often burned on a laptop and it is common for the disc to be scratched as the tray moves in and out. Scratches on the silver side of a CD can cause it to skip.  To cover this the pirater might spray the disc with a light oil.  If it feels greasy to the touch and or smells bad that's a dead giveaway..


EMI made the amazing mistake of announcing the MONO BOX SET would be a limited edition of 10,000 and only sold as a box set.  As if that wasn't stupid enough they then announced a second run of several 100,000 to be made in Japan.  For the fakers this was all their Christmasses come at once, and now there are loads of 'cheap Asian import' versions of the mono box all over Ebay.  Sellers meanwhile have learnt not to start at 99p and you'll see silly starting prices for obvious fakes.

There are some good vids on You-Tube to show you whats what with fake mono box sets.  But in brief, DON'T ... production quality is very bad, the most common error being the actual music is in stereo because the fakers have merely put mono labels on a stereo copy disc (including the 'making of' movie), the discs skip, the set booklet (when present) has typos and pages in the wrong order, the sleeves are stuck together inside out, the reproduction inner sleeves and inserts are absent and the white presentation box can be the wrong size (smaller).  Put the CD in a computer and it will register as the stereo version if it plays in stereo.  Very few remastered mono discs are sold separately.  You can try asking the seller if it really is a mono music but they genuinely may not know how to tell.  Remember, if it looks too good to be true it probably is too good to be true.

The photo below shows the front cover of a genuine mono Magical Mystery Tour which is a reproduction of the 1967 US Capitol mono LP release.  For some strange reason the fake mono's do not include the little text box about the "24 page full color picture book" below the 'Magical Mystery Tour' splash. Probably because it does not appear on the stereo remaster cover.

I have some more photo's of the points I mention here that will look better when not seen in low res eBay vision, send me a message and I will be glad to post them to your eBay address.

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