How to Spot Fake DVDs
With unauthorized copies of movies and other media being sold around the world, you may be wondering whether that DVD is a counterfeit. If you are shopping from a street market or online seller, here is how to check for authenticity.
Part One of Three:
Basic Signs of Lack of Authenticity
Research the movie that you want to buy. Find out how many versions have been officially released, the special features of the movie and which regions the movie is encoded for. This will allow you to spot a fake easily when you are shopping, and it will also give you a better sense of which deals are too good to be true.
For example, genuine Disney DVD’s are rarely “Region 0”, “playable in all regions” or “region 1 compatible”. If you spot a Disney DVD advertising any of these things, you will know that the DVD is possibly fake.
Look carefully at the cover. The cover design should be the same as those for the same movie being sold through a reliable outlet (such as a large retail 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 will probably be single-disc; however, the US or UK version will probably be two-disc, being single-disc does not automatically make it a copy (look for a Disney hologram). Variations in the cover design should make you suspicious because a different cover was possibly printed for pirated copies. If you see any words spelled incorrectly, it is a dead giveaway. Another thing to look for is image quality. Gritty images, matte paper and dull colors indicate that the cover was probably photocopied. The UPC on the back of the DVD case should only be black. If additional ink colors can be seen overlaid over the black in the UPC, or if the lines in the UPC are indistinct because of the bar code’s image being re-processed with a halftone screen over it, then it is most likely that the DVD case has been copied.
If you are thinking about ordering a DVD that does not come with a cover (most often advertised as being a former rental), do not think about it.
The absence of security seals and plastic wraps should also warrant suspicion.
The advertisement of DVD-9 is often thought to be associated with fake DVD’s because many official studio releases never advertise this distinction; it is counterfeit distributors who specify it in relation to quality to differentiate their products from lower-quality DVD-5 counterfeits. In general, any advertisement of “quality” is a red flag, as original releases rarely mention it. The exception here is some genuine Thai DVDs that do mention DVD-9 if they are also released as DVD-5 (DVD-9 is dual layer and as such often has more extra features).
Part Two of Three:
Assessing the Quality
Examine the actual DVD if you have already bought it. Chances are that you have played it and the quality is questionable enough for you to be reading this article to make sure. Some additional questions to ask are:
Can you see through the DVD? If you can see through it very well, it is most likely not authentic, though this is not always the case.
Is it colorful (blue, gold, purple, etc.; instead of silver)? If it is any of the colors listed above, it is most likely not a mass-produced DVD.
Hold the DVD up to the light and tilt it to one side. You may be able to see a well-known manufacturer’s name, such as Maxell. If the disc has such a name, then the DVD was a burnable disc, and the disc’s contents are counterfeit.
Check the cover. Real movies have high-quality manufacturer photos, and often fake ones have blurry, lack of color, and less detail type covers. This will tell you that the cover probably was taken with a camera.
If the movie is without security labels, the movie may be a counterfeit.
Put the DVD into your DVD drive. In Windows, click on My Computer, then click your player’s drive. It will give you the size of the disc. There should be close to 5 GB used on a single layer or more on a double layer (but this varies depending on running time). Then go through Windows Explorer and right click on various files stored on the DVD to check properties. Look for the creation date. If the DVD is out of print, for example, and the date is recent, something is not right. However, this will probably not work with Disney imported DVD’s with copy protection and results may be misleading.
If the spine of the DVD is very thin, and the case is opaque, it is probably fake.
If random messages show up about how bootlegs are illegal, or the colors are distorted, these are messages that the average camera can pick up.
Look for copy protection. All DVDs are “copy protected” due to copyright laws. Thus, checking the DVD for copy protection method might work, as bootlegs usually don’t have copy protection. If you have a recent DVD try making a copy and if it in fact gets copied, then it’s a bootleg. If it does not work due to copy protection, it might be a good sign.
Insert DVD movie.
Open a program used to copying CD/DVD.
Try to make a copy. Then you will be able to determine if it’s a copy.
Part Three of Three:
Requesting a Refund
Go back to the manufacturer or store that sold you the DVD. Tell them you have a counterfeit.
Complain to the seller. If it is a store or a business, contact them for a refund. If they refuse, file a report with the Better Business Bureau or your country’s equivalent. If it is a street vendor, report them to your local authorities. And if it is an online seller, such as at an auction site, report them to the coordinating party and leave negative feedback. You can also report a seller of counterfeits to the studio’s anti-piracy department.
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Some of us “sellers” on eBay are victims of distributors of bootlegs, unaware we are selling them. Should we have a chance to clarify and refund to our victims/buyers of the scam without being reported as scammers? Answered by wikiHow Contributor
Exactly what I was thinking. Some bootlegs could be well done enough that even an experienced seller wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. If it’s sealed it would be even harder and you can’t kill the value on a new item by opening each one on the slight chance it might be a bootleg. If this does happen to you as a buyer, just ask for a return/refund and I’m sure any reasonable seller would understand. Don’t just leave negative feedback and potentially ruin someone’s business over one oversight.
I purchased a DVD at a video store but the disc has no picture on the front. What should I do? Answered by wikiHow Contributor
That does not automatically mean it is a counterfeit. Instead, look at the color of the CD. Like mentioned above, counterfeits have a CD that is discolored/not silver.
Is my DVD automatically a fake if I can skip through the anti-piracy warnings? Answered by wikiHow Contributor
Not automatically, but look out for other tell-tale signs because usually the warnings aren’t skippable.
If a barcode is the same but blurred, is it fake? Answered by wikiHow Contributor
That is most likely a result of wear and tear. If everything else is fine, it should be real.
What should I look for in a UK Disney DVD? Answered by wikiHow Contributor
Look for a Disney hologram symbol on the spine of the case. If your UK Disney DVD doesn’t have it, then it’s a fake.
Will the rainbow colors still be visible when I hold the disc up to light if the disc is fake? Answered by wikiHow Contributor
Yes. All discs (except Blu-ray) should display rainbow colors, even if it is a copy.
Could my DVD be a fake if it is a plain disk with the title and has poor quality for viewing? Answered by wikiHow Contributor
It could, or it could be a very old movie. Or maybe the signal is off. If something is wrong with the TV or the disc is scratched, it will be hard to watch.
If a a Blu-Ray has no age certificate on the cover or disc, is it a counterfeit? Answered by wikiHow Contributor
No, it could be an American import. Check the back of the Blu-Ray, at the bottom there should be a rating, like, U, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17. If it has one of these, it is an American import and not a counterfeit.
Dodgy products and dodgy people go together, it is unlikely that any vendor on a street corner will be selling a new genuine DVD for half the going price, a very good indicator of a website selling counterfeit is that the site will have been made in a hurry and will have missed things like a proper terms and conditions page, and will almost always have lots of spelling mistakes (or context errors as a spell checker may have been used).
If you do purchase a counterfeit DVD from a major online auction, you could report it to the FBI if you live in the USA: it is a federal case, not a local one.
Most counterfeits tend to come from Asia. If you are considering purchasing from an auction and the seller is shipped from Asia, be wary. Look to see what else they are selling and eye the descriptions very carefully. It should be noted though that many vendors from Asia do sell genuine DVDs and it would be unfair (and also possibly illegal) to discriminate against sellers based upon geographic location alone.
If you play the DVD and it has nothing on it, it is an obvious fake.
Look for spelling errors. Most counterfeit movies spell words incorrectly, and information may be missing.
There’s always going to be the risk of getting scammed when dealing with disreputable sellers; buy carefully.
Street vendors may not be too pleased, or may not even be there next time, if you are trying to get a refund.
Avoid Buying Counterfeit Products
Spot Counterfeit Products
Detect Counterfeit US Money
Spot If a DVD Is a Counterfeit Fake
Make a Fake Cinema at Home
Fix a Scratched CD
Burn a CD
Clean a DVD
Transfer VHS Tapes to DVD or Other Digital Formats
Copy a DVD Movie
About This Article
Updated: June 26, 2017
Categories: Featured Articles | CDs and DVDs | Movies
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