Our second story about DVD piracy today: we just learned from Canada's Winnipeg Free Press about some very dumb DVD pirates who sold fake copies of popular TV series online, mostly full season sets of TV shows like "Ally McBeal," "The Carol Burnett Show," "Little House on the Prairie" and "The Six Million Dollar Man."
The prices charged for these fake DVDs was high... two hundred dollars or more for all the episodes of an entire series. The chief appeal here seems to have been the availability of many series which are not legitimately available online or in retail stores.
But there was a wide variance in the quality of the DVDs they sold, most of which were apparently recorded from cable or satellite TV broadcasts. One disappointed customer said "they were so amateurish it looked like a 10-year-old did it."
The Free Press picks up the story:
Some, like an episode of Beverly Hills 90210, are picture perfect -- although it includes in the lower right corner the SoapNet channel insignia from which the show was dubbed.
Others, like an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, look like they've been recorded onto a videotape using the slow speed and then dubbed onto DVD.
But the shoddiest example is the packaging of the Newhart show.
In Newhart, Bob Newhart played the owner of an inn in Vermont, and that's what the writeup on the package says. But the packaging on the pirated DVD features photographs of him from his earlier TV show, playing a psychologist.
So... I know what you're thinking. Shoddy quality, poor packaging... those are the hallmarks of nearly every video pirate. What's so dumb about that?
Well, when customers were unhappy with the quality of the dodgy DVDs, they shipped them back to the return address on the box, which just happened to be the offices of the Winnipeg Free Press.
As they said in their coverage, "If you want to keep it secret that you're selling pirated DVDs, it's probably not a good idea to use a major Canadian newspaper as your return address."
(The Free Press first disclosed this information a couple of weeks ago, but we just found out about it now while catching up on news we missed at TV Shows on DVD. We're a couple of weeks late, but the story was simply too good not to pass on.)
[Previously: Drug Dealers Forgo Blow For DVD Plunder Down Under]