Beware of bootlegs

Watch out!


OK, I exaggerate.  Adding a bootleg copy of a DVD to your collection won’t burn down the house (or the library).  But sharing illegally made copies does infringe on copyright; in other words, sharing illegal copies is, well, illegal. 

Because our shared catalog is public and easy to search, and because large production companies like Disney and Netflix do care about their intellectual property, adding bootleg copies could lead to a cease and desist letter.  The production copy would have grounds to sue if you didn’t cease and desist.

Of course, bootleg copies are not added on purpose.  They sneak into collections.  In 2024, bootlegs aren’t just sold in open air markets in foreign countries.  They are sold via third-party vendors via Walmart and Amazon. 

It used to be that bootlegs had quality packaging, but poor-quality recordings.  In 2024, the quality isn’t necessarily bad. 

In 2024, fewer DVDs are being released.  Disney has stopped releasing new titles on DVD, and Netflix has slowed the production of DVDs of original series.   The bootlegs I’m noticing now are for titles that were never publicly released on DVD.

If you only buy your DVDs from Midwest Tape or other library suppliers, you are probably pretty safe.  If you buy off of Amazon, try to verify that you are buying directly from Amazon and not a third party.  (Here’s an article on how tell who you’re buying from on Amazon: .) If an item is donated or bought out of a discount bin of re-releases, it’s going to be trickier to find out if it’s legitimate. 

One big red flag that you might have a bootleg copy is the lack of a good bibliographic record.  If a title was widely released in theaters or ran on a major network, you should be able to find a bibliographic record for it via smart port.  If you can’t find a bib record, search online to see if the DVD has been released by the production company. 

Finding DVD release dates used to be easier than it is now.  One could readily find DVD release dates for just about anything produced, because all new content used to automatically go to DVD after a movie’s initial release.  Rotten and Internet Movie Database no longer include DVD release dates in their listings. 

The information is still available:  Amazon and other sites still promote new-to-DVD releases.  Now if a new title is released to DVD, it’s usually pretty easy to find the official release date with a google search, but if the title is not a new release, the status can be confusing.  The safest route:  if you can’t find corroborating DVD release information from sources other than eBay, don’t add the item.

If anyone determines an item in the shared catalog is infringing on copyright, that item will need to be removed. 

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