With so many copies of movies and other unauthorized media sold around the world, you may wonder if the DVD you bought is counterfeit. If you decide to go shopping at the street market or buy online, here are the steps to verify the authenticity of a DVD.
Step 1. Research the movie you want to buy
Find out how many versions were released, what special features the film has, and which regions it was coded for. This will allow you to identify a fake copy when you go shopping, and it will also give you a greater ability to see which offers are too good to be true.
For example, genuine Disney DVDs are rarely from "Region 0", "playable in all regions" or "compatible with region 1". If you spot any of these things in an advertisement for a Disney DVD, you know it is possibly a fake
Step 2. Look carefully at the face
The design of the cover should be the same as those sold in a reputable store (such as a major 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 is probably a single disc. However, the US or UK version is probably two-disc, and just having one disc doesn't mean it's a copy (look for the Disney hologram). Variations in the cover art should make you wonder as pirated copies may have a different cover printed on them. If you see any misspelled word, it is a clear indication that it is false. Another thing to watch is the quality of the image. Blurred images, matte paper, and dull colors indicate that the cover page was probably photocopied. The Universal Product Code (UPC) on the back of the DVD box should be black only. If you can see ink of other colors superimposed on the black UPC, or if the lines on the UPC are indistinct because the barcode image has been reprocessed by means of a halftone protection on it, then most likely they have done a copy of the DVD box.
- If you plan to order a DVD that comes without a cover (most of the time it is advertised as a previously rented DVD), you better not do so.
- You should also be suspicious if there are no security seals or plastic wrap.
- The DVD-9 advertisement is often associated with fake DVDs as many official studio releases never advertise this distinction. It is the distributors of counterfeit copies who specify this in relation to quality to differentiate their products from the counterfeit DVD-5 copies that have even lower quality. In general, any advice regarding "quality" is a suspicious sign, since the original versions almost never mention it. The exception in this case are some genuine Thai DVDs that do mention DVD-9 if there is also the DVD-5 version (DVD-9s are dual layer and usually include additional features).
Step 3. Check the DVD in question if you already bought it
Possibly you've already reproduced it and the quality is questionable enough to make you read this article to be sure. Some additional questions you can ask are:
- Can you see through the DVD? If you can see through it clearly, it is most likely inauthentic, although this is not always the case.
- Is it any color (blue, gold, purple, etc; other than silver)? If it is one of the colors mentioned above, it is most likely not a mass-produced DVD.
- Bring the DVD closer to the light and tilt it to the side. Maybe you can see the name of a well-known manufacturer, like Maxell. If the disc has a name like this, then it is a DVD, it is a recordable disc and the content of this disc is counterfeit.
Step 4. Put the DVD in your DVD drive
In Windows, click My Computer, then click your playback drive. The size of the disc will appear. It should be close to 5GB if it is a single layer DVD or more if it is a double layer DVD (but it varies depending on the length of time). Then go into Windows Explorer and click on several of the files stored on your DVD to verify their properties. Find the creation date. If the DVD is no longer being produced, for example, and the date is recent, something is wrong. However, this will probably not work with imported Disney DVDs that have copy protection and the results may be misleading.
Step 5. Complain to the seller
If it's a store or business, contact them and ask for a refund. If they refuse to do so, file a report with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the equivalent in your country. If it is a street vendor, report it to your local authorities. And if it is an online seller, such as an auction site, report it to the coordinating party and give the user a negative rating. You can also report a seller of illegal copies to the studio's anti-piracy department.
Step 6. If the spine of the DVD is very thin, and the case is opaque, it is probably a fake
Step 7. If you get random messages saying that unauthorized edits are illegal, or colors are distorted, these are messages that any average camera can pick up
- If you buy a counterfeit DVD at a major online auction, you can report it to the FBI, if you live in the United States: it is a federal case, not a local one.
- Suspicious products and suspicious people go hand in hand, it is not at all likely that a vendor on a street corner is selling a genuine new DVD at half price, a good indicator of counterfeit copies on a website, is that the site was done in a hurry and lacks things like a proper terms and conditions page, and almost always has a lot of spelling errors (or context errors, as a spell checker may have been used).
- Most of the counterfeit copies usually come from Asia. If you are thinking of buying something at auction and the seller is from Asia, be careful. Try to see what other products they sell and read the descriptions carefully. It should be noted that many Asian sellers do sell genuine DVDs and it would not be fair (and perhaps also illegal) to discriminate against sellers simply based on their geographic location.
- If you try to ask a street vendor for a refund, they might not be very happy about it, or might not even be there the next time you go.
- There is always the risk of getting ripped off if you deal with sellers who have a bad reputation, so shop carefully.