Recently, we’ve seen an influx of complaints about defective DVDs – especially from our multi-disc box sets – that have been purchased both online and at fan conventions. Although none of these sets were purchased from Shoutfactory.com, our customer service team has investigated each complaint, and been able to identify nearly all of these sets as counterfeit. Despite the poor quality of the discs themselves, many of these bootlegs are quite sophisticated, and can be difficult to identify as being illegitimate. As a result, we’ve prepared this FAQ to help our fans and customers understand the differences between a genuine Shout! Factory product and a counterfeit.
How can I tell if my DVD set is not a genuine Shout Factory product?
If you see a seller offering one of our box sets for dramatically less than it is available for purchase on our website and from authorized retailers (such as Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Wal-Mart, etc.), chances are good that it is a bootleg. In short, if the price for a “brand-new set” seems too good to be true, it probably is.
2. Missing Booklets
For box sets that contain booklets, bootleggers often (though not always) leave out the booklet. If a seller tries to tell you that their inventory was missing the booklet, it is very likely that they did not purchase what they are selling to you from a legitimate source.
3. Inability to Replace Defective Parts
If the seller where you purchased the set is unable to help you with replacement parts, they may be an illegal seller. An authorized retailer will have access to the supplier (us) and be able to procure the appropriate replacements.
4. Playback Issues
Because counterfeit discs are highly-compressed and not professionally authored, they often have major playback issues. Episodes will skip or cut out, and some discs may be completely unreadable. If you purchase a box set and find that several discs have major playback issues, chances are good that you have purchased a bootleg.
5. Poor Video and Audio Quality
Because the disc content has been compressed from a dual-layered source to a single-layered disc, bootlegs of our set often have terrible picture and audio quality, even when they play perfectly well on your equipment.
6. Region Coding
Counterfeits of our DVDs are often (though not always) region-free discs (discs that play anywhere in the world), whereas our actual releases are usually locked, Region One discs, due to the fact that we almost always have the legal right to sell our products only in North America.
7. Disc Size
The best way to tell if your set is a bootleg is to check the size of one or more of the discs. The vast majority of our releases use dual-layered DVDs, which can hold up to 8.5 gigabytes of data. Bootleggers, on the other hand, use cheaper, single-layer discs, which can only hold up to 4.7 gigabytes of data. You can determine if your discs are single or dual-layered by checking their size in a DVD-ROM drive.
The set I received was brand-new and factory sealed – how could it be a bootleg?
Bootleggers have gotten quite sophisticated – not only do they shrink-wrap their products, but they often go so far as to reproduce our marketing stickers on the outside of the packaging. Shrink-wrap and a marketing sticker do not ensure that the set you have purchased is official.
I ordered a bootleg of one of your sets without knowing it was a bootleg. How do I get my money back?
Contact your credit card company or PayPal – do NOT contact the website or seller that sold you the DVDs. Your credit card company is there to protect you from fraud, and if you report a bootlegger, your credit card company will open an investigation which will most likely result in a refund. If a credit card company receives enough complaints, a seller’s credit card processing abilities can be revoked.
Most credit card companies will give you 90 days from the time of the order to dispute the charges; PayPal will give you 45 days.
How do the sales of bootlegs affect Shout! Factory?
Every time a bootleg of one of our releases is sold, it means the loss of a potential sale of an authorized set. Lost sales may prevent us from releasing other great shows and movies in the future. The sales of bootlegs also mean the loss of compensation to all the people and companies who contribute to, create, publicize, and support the entertainment product we bring to you.
What can I do to help shut down these illegal sellers?
If you’re in the United States, you should report any offending sellers to the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) by sending an email to this email address: ReportPiracy@mpaa.org. You can also file a report with the Better Business Bureau® (https://www.bbb.org/).
If you’ve made a purchase on the Amazon Marketplace, please email the seller’s information to us at firstname.lastname@example.org immediately, and we will work with Amazon to have the offending seller account suspended. If you’ve made a purchase on eBay, we ask that you please report the seller to eBay using the “report item” option on the auction page and leave the seller negative feedback indicating that they sold you a fraudulent item. If you provide us with the seller’s information, we can also report the fraudulent item to eBay.