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eBay: Telling The Difference Between Bootlegs and Legitimate DVDs

» Articles, Features, Rant-ON | posted by Kefkasou on 08/7/2006 [Discuss]

Who are we dealing with?

As Anime increasingly makes it’s presence in the United States, bootleggers and private individuals are finding many ways to seek profit and personal gain by taking advantage of people involved in this phenomenon.

So who has the right to release Anime?

To get things started, as many people already know, eBay is a great place to find deals unimagined compared to retail stores. But when is a deal too good to be true to make you suspicious of the credibility of the item you buy? If one was to type in and search “Anime DVD”, 95% of all the items you see are most likely bootlegs. For those who do not know what bootlegs are, they are DVDs containing content released by a person/company who/that does not possess the licensing agreement to distribute it. In other words, anyone who does not have rights or a license to an Anime, may not be allowed to freely take that content and sell it legally. Next, how can one tell the difference between bootlegs and legit DVDs?

One, Two, or Three? What is the correct number?

Most of the time an Anime DVD contains around 3 to 4 episodes. So in other words, if it is a 26 episode Anime, you would expect (generally) 6 to 7 DVDs. Most 13 episode Anime series contain 4 DVDs. This is one of the most obvious things to know when looking to buy Anime DVDs. When there are 3 DVDs for something that is 26 episodes or 1 or 2 DVDs for 13 episodes series, then most likely it is bootlegged. Although there are times where some DVDs contain 5 episodes. But knowing the Region Code of the DVD should be the next thing to understand.

There should only be ONE type of DVD…right?

There are 8 Regions for DVDs including Region 0 or Region Free to Region 7. For example, Region 1 is North America, Canada. Region 2 is Japan and so forth. The Region to look out for when trying to distinguish the different between bootlegs and real DVDs is “Region 0″ or “Region Free.” This is the Hong Kong Regional Code. When you see an Anime DVD that says Region 0 or Region Free, 99.9% of the time it is a bootleg. However, there are Region 0 films that are NOT bootleg (exp. Initial D:LA). But when it comes down to Anime, avoid buying any of them that has to do with Region 0/Free. So why is Region 2,3,4 brought in? That is because people may mistaken for example, region 2 and 4 as bootleg. For North American people, buy ONLY Region 1! Next subject is the language package.

A language barrier?

If there is Chinese subtitles in a DVD, then chances are it is a bootleg. Most simply it is because Region 1 DVDs are Billingual or sometimes Trillingual and subtitles are usually just English. Just remember to avoid Chinese subtitles DVDs. Next point is the artwork of the DVD.

“Covering” the truth

Most of the time, the company that license an Anime will have an artwork that is universally seen at all stores. To find what the REAL artwork looks like go to sites such as,, or So before buying the DVD, make sure you can compare the artwork the person is selling with a trusted store. Even Bestbuy’s website will help you with this because there are no stores (other than pawn shops and second hand stores) that will sell bootlegs. Also in most cases, bootleg DVDs do not copy the DVD artwork from legitiment DVDs. Final point is, be careful of the price.

Truth or a lie?

Most people have probably heard the saying, Iif it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. Well, it’s the same thing when it comes to eBay. If at any point you think the price is way too good, have your doubts in mind. If anything, ask the person who is selling questions about the item. Do not be afraid to be blunt with how to talk to them. Bootleg dealers will find any way to get you to think what they sell if real by saying “factory sealed” and such. But in reality, anyone can “factory seal” a set of DVDs with plastic wrappers and a hairdryer.

Main Idea of this Rant?! - Why am I writing all this? Because many people are not realizing that they are buying bootlegs. I have checked out many feedbacks of bootleg sellers to see how almost everyone thanked the seller but saying like “I didn’t expect it to be foriegn” or “DVD quality is bad”. These replies are from people who are ignorant of what they are really buying until it is too late. Thank you for reading all of this and I hoped it contributed to being part of something you did not know.

Closing Statement(s) - There are many ways to fight the spread of bootlegs, but it can only start with the next person: the person you inform.

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