Lessons in Stupidity (Bootleg DVD’s– updated)

“If a deal looks too good to be true, that’s because IT IS.” How many times have I congratulated myself on being smart enough to know that?

It was too many, even if it was only once. Color me naive and stupid. “Oh, I’m sure there’s bootleg animé on Ebay, but I doubt there’s a lot of it. Get too open and obvious, and the authorities would smash your operation, after all.” I would have said that easily–an hour ago.

Read the comments here, and let it be a warning to you. It’s been a while since I’ve been this stupid.

Edit: I should have remembered my Heinlein. “Always look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Update: In the prior post’s comments, SDB speculates that the second package I noted as legit was also a bootleg. Actually, it’s just a combination of two errors I made in my rush through various sites and looking at different products for sale. I looked again, and I’m not sure where I got the Bandai; it’s Genon & Pioneer like SDB said, and it’s the first series only, not both. Sigh.

What with all the Magic cards I’ve been buying there recently, Ebay was simply the first place that occured to me to look for a discounted copy, or a shop that still had some of the Geneon specials. Once I realized I should be looking out for bootleg, I was stunned at the sheer volume of it on Ebay.
There were a lot of little signs I should have picked up on prior to the purchase, and a hella lot more afterwards, including the technical difficulties. I doubt anyone recalls, but I experienced earlier play problems (with this exact same hardware) that I mentioned in the Sister Princess review and later, trying to replay Sol Bianca: The Legacy. Combined with some connectivity problems I’ve had, I simply assumed that I was having hardware issues.

Since I’ve got it, I’m going to take the stupid thing with me this afternoon and we’ll see if it’s viewable, but after I get back from Dallas, I think I’m going to send an e-mail to Geneon and see if they want it and a written account for evidence. Won’t do a lot of good, I bet; the retailers will get a C & D order, then just change the packaging/advertisments slightly and continue — but it’s better than just going “Gosh, that’s a shame.”

Some might wonder why I’d do that, instead of just keeping it and say “lesson learned.” After all, I paid for the item, now I’m talking about giving it away. Well, there’s a very good reason: rational self interest. To explain, I’ll start by consideirng what many see as an equal ripoff: Fansubbing. I see fansubbing as a pinprick; you’re always going to have some folks that want to get something for nothing, and if it’s not going to be imported to R1, I don’t have a problem with DL’ing it. It’s a bit of a niche; while worldwide, you may have a lot of people running bittorrent and downloading fansubs, it’s a small fraction compared to the actual sales, and most of it is of shows not licensed in the region where the downloader lives. In short, many downloaders can’t get the downloaded program, and some wouldn’t pay for it even if they could.

But bootleg is a whole ‘nother cup of tea; someone has actively set out to steal the artist’s living for their own financial profit, not enjoyment. Instead of one or maybe a half-dozen people enjoying a download, the bootlegger is providing copies to thousands of people; unlike a fansubbing group, he’s profiting from that effort personally.  The buyer of a bootleg IS willing to spend money to obtain his product. Maybe, like me, the buyer is trying not to spend a lot of it, but if he’s willing to pay, then his money should damn well go to the creative artists, not the ripoff artists. Every dollar spent on bootleg is one less spent to import legitimate animé; every dollar wasted in such a manner means less will be imported because there’s no profit in it.  Not to mention some slimeball getting rich from his thieving ways.
So as I see this, I’ll watch it to get something out of the money I spent (after all, I’ve been ripped off too, as the product is distinctly inferior), but then it gets offered to Geneon for evidence, should they want it.

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15 Responses to Lessons in Stupidity (Bootleg DVD’s– updated)

  1. Andrew F. says:

    This is the best resource I’ve found for determining whether a DVD is pirated (I linked to the DVD portion of the FAQ, but the rest is also is very informative).

    Cliffs Notes version: Is it Region 0 encoded? Does it include Chinese subtitles? Does the seller refer to it as “Import(ed)”? Is the disc count absurdly low? Is the price absurdly low? If one or more of the above is true, then it’s almost certainly a bootleg. Region 0 and Chinese subtitles are the biggest indications.

    As for getting the bastards shut down, don’t get your hopes up. The bootleggers and the eBay sellers generally aren’t the same people. The former are usually based in Taiwan or China, whose governments have been notoriously lax in enforcing international copyright law. The latter, while often located stateside, don’t have much to fear short of an FBI or ICE crackdown, and those guys seem to have their hands full with more pressing matters lately. I’ve read that eBay was found not liable for the sale of pirated goods through their system, so since the sellers in question are a large part of their revenue stream and tend to have high feedback, they’ve got no incentive (or rather a disincentive) to do anything. Depressing that criminals can attain feedback ratings in the tens of thousands selling pirated goods with impunity, but that’s the way it is.

    Hell, I seem to remember Steven Den Beste himself getting suckered by a bootleg G-On Riders set, so you’re in good company.

  2. Wonderduck says:

    Amen, brudda! With any luck, your efforts will actually accomplish something more than just a C&D.

    And maybe The Powers That Be will smile upon your efforts with a “thank you” note, or a 10% off coupon or something… not that that’s what you’re looking for, of course.

    FWIW, a good rule of thumb for judging if something’s a boot is “how many episodes per DVD are there?” 99% of the legit companies do 3-5 per. I’ve seen as many as 8-9 per from a booter. *shakes head* I can’t even imagine the vid quality on that…

    Which, of course, means I’ll be bitten by a boot in the next few days. You might feel stupid, but it happens all the time, even to retailers.

  3. Ubu Roi says:

    Wish I’d known it ahead of time. I wasn’t too surprised at the lack of extras, given how stripped down the ADV thinpacks tend to be, but I thought something was peculiar when there was no studio or distributor logo “splash” screen. It just launched straight into the first episode from the menu. “Wow, now that’s stripped down!” I mean, I definately didn’t miss the FBI anti-piracy warning… but in retrospect that would have been quite ironic, wouldn’t it? I just put the inital problems I had running it down to hardware issues and started watching the show.

    Of course, when it comes to “hardware issues” I’m afraid Dr. Heinous just topped me. The reason I have time to type this is because when we put the second DVD of Dual! into his player (he uses a mini-box to drive his HDTV and record programs to a hard drive instead of a TIVO), it hard-crashed the system. Somehow, it not only did that, but it fubared the operating system. So now we get the entirely unjoyful experience of reinstalling XP and all his DVD programs. Instead of watching anime. The blurb screen says right now, “Your computer will be faster and more reliable.” Yeah.

    Oh, and did I mention that since his prior video program had given him problems, he’d installed Power DVD 7, but the trial expired while he was in Las Vegas, and when he went back to WMP, it didn’t work because the codecs were defective? So he had to download a new codec and install it just to start the evening…

    It’s been that kind of night. Someone tell me how the hell putting a perfectly good DVD into the player can corrupt the operating system? I’m almost afraid to try Vandread now…

  4. Wonderduck says:

    *heh* Probably has this at the beginning of the DVD:

    10 CLR
    20 PRINT “U R FUXX0R3D”
    30 GOTO 20

    …and I think that’s the first lines of TRS-80 BASIC I’ve typed in 21 years.

  5. Ubu Roi says:

    Jebus. It took until sometime after 3 a.m. to get the system operating again. System restore didn’t work. Recovery from the install disk didn’t work. Multiple re-installs didn’t work. At one point, Windows (not the system, but XP itself) decided it didn’t believe in either the USB or PS2 ports. And then there was reloading the sound drivers over and over again, only to have the system refuse to work.

    Someone tell Bill that putting a DVD in the drive is NOT supposed to fuck up the O/S royally. There is no excuse for that. (What started it was that the system locked up when we put in Dual! and Dr.H rebooted because Ctrl-Alt-Del wouldn’t break it out of the lockup.) My friends often make fun of the fact that I insist on remaining one or more iterations of the Win O/S behind what’s current. That’s because they only get most of the bugs out of a version right about the time they stop supporting it.

  6. Andrew F. says:

    I had submitted a comment shortly after you posted this, but it hasn’t shown up. Are you running some sort of anti-spam plugin that objected to the first word in my comment being a link?

  7. Ubu Roi says:

    Probably, I’ll check akismet. Only 2+ links are supposed to get caught in the regular spam filter. Sorry for it staying there so long, I’ve been playing the new Runequest with Dr. Heinous and Pinto.

    Edit: yep, it was Akismet.  That’s one of the few false positives ever.

  8. Dr.Heinous says:

    There is now a restraining order between Mr. Ubu Roi and my media center computer. That’s all I have to say on the subject. Saboteur.

  9. Ubu Roi says:

    Hey, that wasn’t even the bootleg DVD. Not my fault if you build crappy systems that blow up when a perfectly good DVD is inserted into the drive! The fact that a rinky-dink PS2 was able to play them more reliably (if not in surround sound) than your custom-built super media center system should embarass you.

    Come to think of it, you even inserted the DVD into the drive, not me. I never touched anything. So it’s all your fault then. 😛 😛 😛 😛 😛

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  12. Ubu Roi says:

    Final Update: I never got a response from them.

  13. Pingback: Mahou Meido Meganekko » Blog Archive » We Played This?

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