I donâ€™t promote piracy, but letâ€™s face it; these items have been are all over eBay and Amazon. So much so you have to ask the seller if the DVDs they are selling are legit or not. A few years ago there was talk about working with China to prevent these kinds of items from being distributed, it seems they are here to stay for the time being. I wanted to write about this in my old blog I had two years ago but never got around to it, but figured I’d write about it today, since these items are still out there. However its not as bad as it was in 2004 (where about 90% of the DVD sets on eBay were pirates or where 50% of the ones on Amazon sold by sellers were like they were in 2005). What makes me wonder is why Hollywood didn’t come down harder on eBay and Amazon more for not filtering these items out better back then. Guess they spend too much time focusing on internet users that download movies, perhaps because they donâ€™t have the money to hire good lawyers. eBay did better in 2005 and in 2007 its hard to find these items as they finally got on the ball in preventing these items from being listed. Amazon and eBay were making money on these items, from the seller fees whether they are legal or not and personally I think anyone profiting from pirating should be more of a focus than those that were doing it online by downloading. Anyway enough of that rant and onto the review.
I bought one of these items on eBay back in 2004. At first I wasnâ€™t sure if they were authentic or not, after all in 2004 these things were all over eBay and there were some legit DVD sets from other regions (even from Asia). I got the DVD set (Deep Space Nine, if you really need to know) and the packaging was fairly cheap, basically some fancy printing done over a cardboard holder with the DVDs all in soft plastic sleeves. A few of the season boxes I opened seemed like the DVDs were just thrown in and a few had scratches on them (one of them skipped pretty bad). Video quality was average to very good. It seemed that they stopped the animation on the main menu screens to possibly save some space, and the credits at the end were usually cut short, although nobody really cares a whole lot about those. But another thing I noticed is usually the last episode on each DVD set would usually be cut off more than the others, sometimes the episode would be cut off anywhere from 2-30 seconds, and a few times even more than that. This really sucked as sometimes I had no clue as to what really happened at the end. The special features for the DVDs were there but a few of them had something else thrown in like a preview for some other DVD set while I’m sure that wasn’t on the official sets.
In 2005 I ended up getting sent one of these “Asian Import” DVD sets from Amazon, the whole time I was thinking it was legitimate. Again the packaging was the same, last episode on each DVD was cut short again, and the video quality was a little poorer on this set, although later episodes had better quality. However the animations were still in for the menu screens though. Another thing I noticed is that one episode seemed to be zoomed in for some reason and another episode was in letterbox form while everything else had been in fullscreen. And one time their menu pointed to the same episode twice, although I was able to use the next button to finally find that episode on the disk.
It seems these sets are not all alike, varying in quality but in the end are done rather sloppy. You would think they would know how to make good copies and fit everything onto the disk without any problems. Perhaps no one overseas knows about DVD Decrypter or DVDShrink or they don’t know enough English to use them. Perhaps they just don’t care, they know that people will buy the sets no matter what and not have anyone to complain to. Although you would think if they did an awesome job that their sets would be more popular than the official sets. You’ll also find some people selling DVD-Rs of sets also, as I’ve gotten ripped off once or twice with those deals before. Be careful of what you see on eBay, Amazon and some of the other sites out there, often you have to ask the seller upfront and look at the pictures carefully to see if the items you are getting are legit. Sometimes what they sell is cheaper but sometimes the quality is at a sacrifice as well. I’ve even seen some people sell DVD-R copies of shows that haven’t been released on DVD officially yet that are from old VHS copies and they are horrible in quality. Again I don’t promote piracy, but this stuff is out there and people are not getting what they ordered from sellers online.