Pirate and Bootleg Blu-ray/DVD Documentation

Brent Reid

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Inspired by the proliferation of threads here and elsewhere concerning pirate and bootleg Blu-rays and DVDs, I’ve written a comprehensive article on the subject:

Here's an extracted checklist from the article, on identifying the rip-offs:
  • There are no proper studio or copyright credits or logos anywhere on the discs or sleeves. Comparing them to a release from another country will give an indication of what they should show.
  • Pirate companies generally have a lack of any credible internet presence, with no websites (or cheap-looking, barely functional ones), social media accounts or online stores. They are, for all intents and purposes, incommunicado.
  • Outside of their native countries, pirated discs are shifted chiefly via online stores like Amazon and eBay – both of which do virtually nothing to stop them.
  • Many titles are from studios not normally known for licensing to other labels or at the very least, have never previously appeared on another label.
  • European pirates in particular are often issued on recordable BD-Rs or DVD-Rs, as opposed to proper, factory-pressed discs.
  • Audio and video on a single disc can be ripped from multiple sources, but pirate companies never release anything hitherto commercially unavailable.
  • Pirate copies very rarely contain any extras but when they do, again they’re never anything unique or commercially unavailable.
  • When a pirate Blu-ray is released of a film that cannot be bought physically in HD, its source will usually be an upscaled DVD, with zero improvement in quality. Occasionally, alternative sources may be a HD TV broadcast or a rip from a legitimate online streaming service, such as Netflix or Amazon Instant Video.
  • Pirate discs are almost always single-layered, compressing the original files to a lower quality, and Blu-rays usually have lossy, space-saving Dolby Digital audio. The official releases they’re copied from will often be dual-layered and almost invariably have lossless, full quality PCM, DTS-HD MA or Dolby TrueHD soundtracks.
  • Pirates never have any region coding and DVDs are usually in the NTSC format, which is playable anywhere. This enables them to be pushed to the broadest market possible.

The article particularly focuses on European pirates and it includes a list of the most prolific offenders. I'd welcome any further info or labels that can be added to the list. I'll keep both my article and this post updated.

Hopefully this will enable buyers to make an informed choice. Supporters and apologists for pirated releases can let their consciences guide them accordingly.
 
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bigshot

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Regional licenses in different markets have different retail price points. Often companies will make deals in major markets for full price, then take the exact same transfer and release it for a fraction of the price in a bare bones version (or even in a short run BD-R) in a region with a much smaller market. It's no skin off their nose to take less money... it's a different market, might as well exploit it. Look at the Chaplin films. Here in the US, they are luxury priced on Criterion. But the exact same transfers have been released in India, South Korea and now the UK at super bargain prices. People jump to the conclusion that these low priced releases are bootlegs. But all it takes for a rights holder to get an unlicensed blu-ray pulled from Amazon.it or Amazon.es is one phone call... and they aren't doing it.


I have a few disks by some of these labels. They are perfectly legitimate looking to me. They're still listed for sale by Amazon itself, not through third party sellers. I am happy with them and I have no reason to believe that they are bootlegs.


I'm happy to recommend the titles I have if anyone is interested.
 

Rick Thompson

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I doubt that anyone out there doesn't know when a website is selling pirated stuff. Of course, were the studios to make these shows available commercially -- St. Elsewhere, Lou Grant, to name two of the most-requested -- the pirates would be out of business in short order.


If the pirates can make a DVD-R, why can't the studios make one? I know I'd rather buy a St. Elsewhere set, even an unremastered DVD-R, from Fox (presumably at a higher price) than from a pirate because I believe the creators should be paid. I've resisted the pirates' siren calls so far, but ...
 

classicmovieguy

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This is a scan from the Impulso release of "Woman Obsessed", which recently arrived from Amazon.es. It has the associated Fox logos and copyright info.


IMG_20150822_0001.jpg
 

Robin9

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classicmovieguy said:
Wow. I had no idea Impulso from Spain was a pirate company. Their Fox releases look pretty legit to me.
Is the OP an authority on bootleggers? What are his credentials?


I too bought several Impulso DVDs a few years ago. I didn't know they were bootlegs then and I don't know now.
 

Robin9

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bigshot said:
But all it takes for a rights holder to get an unlicensed blu-ray pulled from Amazon.it or Amazon.es is one phone call... and they aren't doing it.
It will take more than a phone call. A letter from a lawyer will be the very least.


I have notified Amazon several times that they are selling bootleg products and they have made it clear they don't care. I once left a "review" of a bootleg Spanish Blu-ray disc . . . and the "review" was deleted. Amazon does not want to stop selling bootlegs. They are making money out of them. Amazon is more concerned with profits than integrity.
 

Brent Reid

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Hi Byron, thanks for giving me cause to go back and recheck Impulso's releases; I've removed them from the lists. When I originally checked Impulso I found numerous titles with no studio credits on the back, but I now see there are enough that do carry logos to indicate they're likely just guilty of sloppiness. In hindsight I should have added a proviso, as with the French label.


In response to the poster who rightly said "Amazon is more concerned with profits than integrity." (Is anyone really dumb enough to believe otherwise?) - no, I'm not "an authority on bootleggers." However, pirated discs are as widespread as ever and their pros and cons are argued endlessly across numerous sites and forums. Despite this, no resolution is ever reached and solid facts seldom emerge; if you think we're bad, you should check out the Spanish and Italian film forums!


All I did was take the initiative in attempting to collate what we know about them and present it in an easily accessible format. Is that such a bad thing?
 

Robin9

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Brenty said:
All I did was finally take the initiative in attempting to collate what we know about them and present it in an easily accessible format. Is that such a bad thing?
It's not "a bad thing" to collate information as long as that information is correct. It is however highly improper to libel companies as bootleggers without first having done due diligence in checking the facts.
 

bruceames

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The OP has done due diligence and hard proof in the form of "facts" is not really possible. Otherwise they couldn't be selling them in the first place. I would however recommend labeling them as "suspected offenders to watch out for" and let the reader decide if they think they are legit or not.


In the case of Resen, some of their encodes are bit-for-bit identical to Twilight Time releases in the U.S., and TT has come out and stated that those releases are not legit. A few other labels like Suevia, Llamentol, Vertice release lots and lots of Golden Age classics on DVD that are not released anywhere else in the world. Perhaps Spain loves Hollywood classic movies but I find it hard to believe that the studios would give them an exclusive license to release them.


Anyway it's not like these distributors names have not cropped up before as suspected pirates and they should be exposed if there is a reasonable doubt.
 
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Dr Griffin

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Since Amazon is able to get away with it, does that mean that the FBI warnings on legitimate releases are unenforceable? What's the difference if Amazon sells them or I sell them? One guess what would happen to me if I tried.
 
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Robert Harris

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Dr Griffin said:
Since Amazon is able to get away with it, does that mean that the FBI warnings on legitimate releases are unenforceable? What's the difference if Amazon sells them or I sell them? One guess what would happen to me if I tried.
The FBI and other security agencies have more important things to do than deal with copyright infringement.


The owner must be proactive.


RAH
 

haineshisway

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Amazon will never pull anything when it's reported by anyone other than the rights' holders. However, I have notified rights' holders whenever I see a bootleg of a Kritzerland release, and I am here to tell you how fast Amazon takes that boot down when they've been contacted by the lawyer at whatever company is involved.
 
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Thomas T

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I'm surprised at the amount of copyrighted films that are available for viewing on youtube. Sometimes they get removed, sometimes not. Does anyone know if studios "license" films to youtube?
 

bgart13

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Amazon themselves have even participated in bootlegging. A friend of mine and her husband own a record company and a few years ago I was looking up some of their titles on Amazon. I found many, MANY listed as being available from Amazon -- BY Amazon -- as cd-rs! These titles have the original art, but had blue and black borders around the image. I was initially shocked, as I feared some my friends' titles had gone OOP and had gone the cd-r on-demand route with Amazon. I contact them and they were shocked and upset about this. They contacted Amazon and proceeded to battle with the company, until they eventually convinced Amazon who took a month or two to remove their releases from their cd-r line-up.
 
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haineshisway

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Nobody licenses proper films to You Tube. Mostly the studios don't have time to police that stuff - but if they do, You Tube is really fast about pulling content.
 
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Bryan^H

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Douglas R

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Brenty said:
Thanks for giving me cause to go back and recheck Impulso's releases, Byron. I've removed them from the list (will do the website's one later). When I originally checked Impulso I found numerous titles with no studio credits on the back, but I now see there are enough that do carry logos to indicate they're likely just guilty of sloppiness. In hindsight I should have added a proviso, as with the French label.
Impulso is a puzzle. They often have studio copyrights yet their BD of Hammer's DRACULA has comments on Amazon Spain saying it's a pirated BD-R. They do have a website.


I read somewhere that the reason there is so much pirated material in Spain is simply because it has been traditional for decades for people there to pirate media. It's taken such a stronghold that it's become difficult to deal with and therefore many studios gave up distributing DVDs in Spain years ago..
 
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schan1269

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I've never thought of "Spain itself" being the issue. Having spent considerable time in southern Spain(anybody else been to Jerez?)...

Bootleg stores are typically ran by Moroccan-Libyan immigrants(yes equally Spanish). The product itself likely is created in Africa.
 

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