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PIRATE DVDs, CDs and video games are usually poor quality Criminals generate around £200m a year from DVD piracy in the UK, making it the second worst affected market for DVD piracy in the world after the US. Film piracy is not only damaging to legitimate film making and distribution, but proceeds also contribute to wider organised crime. And it’s not only films and DVDs that are targeted by counterfeiters. Pirate or copied video games and CDs are also readily available to buy and download illegally.
The dangers of pirate DVDs, CDs and video games
It’s not just manufacturers who suffer as a result of piracy – consumers get a raw deal too. Pirate films, CDs and video games are usually of a poor quality, both in terms of their build and playback – some may not even work at all. Pirate movies may have been filmed inside a cinema, leading to picture obstructions, distorted sound quality and fuzzy details.
Many pirate console games will only play in machines that have been specifically altered or ‘chipped’ to play pirate console games. Chipping your machine will invalidate the warranty, could damage it and may lead to the machine being remotely inactivated by the console manufacturer. Downloading films, music and games is illegal and could leave you liable to prosecution if you’re caught. You may download more than you bargained for too, as download sites are rife with viruses and other malicious software.
How to spot pirate DVDs, CDs and video games
Check out the seller and shop Does the seller seem genuine? Examine your surroundings and the context in which goods are offered. Markets, car boot sales and street sellers are prime situations for sales of DVDs, CDs and computer games. According to the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, 33% of pirate DVD buyers and 29% of pirate CD buyers purchase pirate media at car boot sales or markets.
Examine product packaging
DVD, CD or video game packaging should be the same as you would expect to see in a high-street shop with no spelling mistakes and all words written in English (except foreign-language films). Don’t buy products with poorly printed or ill-fitting covers. If new, the package should be sealed and wrapped in a clear covering.
Look at the disc
CD discs that are coloured rather than silver are likely to be pirated If you can open the box, take a look at the disc. It should be free of scratches with one printed surface. Consider rejecting discs that are easy to see though, lack a printed side or show disc manufacturer logos (such as Maxell or TDK). DVD or CD discs that are coloured rather than silver are likely to be pirated.
Take notice of release dates
Has the film, album or computer game been released yet in the UK? If not, it could be pirated. Retailers of genuine products will never sell products before their official release date.
Beware large discounts
Think about how much the CD, DVD or computer game should cost new. If the seller has priced the disc at a large discount, it may be a pirate copy.
Check out feedback scores
If you’re buying from an online seller (such as those advertising on eBay or Amazon Marketplace), check the level and type of feedback the seller has from previous buyers. Buyers may have left negative feedback after being sold pirate DVDs, CDs or computer games. Read our eBay tips and tricks guide for advice on using auction sites.
Do your homework
Research the DVD, CD or computer game you want to buy. Find out how many versions have been officially released, how many discs they box should contain and what, if any, special features they have. Our online retailers survey can help you find top rated DVD, CD or computer game retailers.
Be region aware
The majority of recently released DVDs are encoded to be watched only in certain countries or ‘regions’ (though your DVD player may be able to play DVDs from other regions too). DVDs legally for sale in the UK should be marked on the back as Region 2. DVDs advertised as ‘region free’ or ‘Region 0,’ particularly online, are often counterfeit.
Poor picture and sound quality are key ways of identifying pirate DVDs. Menus and subtitles may be in a foreign language and pre-presentation copyright warnings may be absent or from a different country (for example an FBI copyright warning will often be present if a DVD has been copied from a US disc).