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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