Spotting a Bootleg

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Spotting a Bootleg

#1 Post by Project-2501 » Sun Sep 27, 2009 12:07 pm

Thanks to Exelion for this guide - copied from RAC:

Okay, over the past few months on these forums there have been numerous instances of people posting links to bootleg Anime DVDs, and subsequent requests from members for a Bootleg Guide. So here it is, a guide to help you tell the difference between an Official legitimate Anime DVD and a Bootleg.

For those that don't know, a Bootleg (pirate/counterfeit ) DVDs are produced without the permission of the Copyright holder of that title. There are far more Anime bootlegs than one might expect for such a small medium, compared with the likes of Paramount or Sony, Anime companies simply can't afford costly legal battles in order to put an end to Bootleggers.

Which leads me to my next point, Anime is a niche market, and in order for such a market to exist it needs the "fans" to actually support the product. Would you like it if you spent a lot of your time, talent, and money in making something, only for someone else to steal it and make a load of money? Would you continue to make products if it was only going to be stolen? No. So support the industry that you love, and buy official DVDs.

The quality of Bootlegged products are abysmal, poor sound quality which can also be out of sync, poor video quality. No extras, horrendous English subtitle translation and cheap packaging. Essentially produced as cheaply as possible.

So how can you spot a Bootleg?

First up check sites such as AnimeOnDVD and see if the Anime title you are interested in has an Official release;" onclick=";return false;
Pretty much every DVD official R1 DVD release is listed on that Database. The vast majority of UK DVDs are also listed on there.

Region Zero (0) / Region All - This is a particularly good way to spot a Bootleg DVD as most Bootlegs are region free. There are a few Official region 0 titles, but these are few and far between, if in doubt check AOD Database listed above or the website of Official Anime distributors/retailers.

Logo's - Check the artwork on the DVD packaging for the logos of official publishers, most bootlegs don't have logos on the DVD cover artwork. Also check for country specific classification ratings. U.K DVDs should have BBFC ratings on the DVD packaging which can be seen at" onclick=";return false;, R4 Australian should have similar ratings which can be seen at" onclick=";return false;, and American DVDs should contain suggested age ratings on the back of the DVD (e.g 16 up) and sometimes a FBI warning in the fine print.

Packaging - Bootlegs often come in fold out cardboard boxes, rather than plastic cases (with the exception of movies/OVAs). However there are a few official Anime DVD releases which use cardboard packaging e.g Viz's Bleach Collection 1, Manga U.K's Evangelion movie collection. If it's a series in a cardboard fold out box, it's probably a Bootleg.

Number of Discs - The average 26 episode Anime series is spread across 5-8 DVDs, with 12/13 episode series on 3-4 DVDs. Obviously there are exceptions to this, Funimations Fruits Basket release is 26 episodes across 4 discs for example. Usually Bootlegs are 3 discs for a 26 episode series, essentially a high episode count 8-10 episodes per DVD is a good sign that it’s a bootleg.

Languages and Special Features - If the DVD has Chinese/Mandrin language Dub or subtitles as well as having English subtitles/dub it's certainly a bootleg. Likewise most Anime DVD's will come with an English Dub, so if it doesn't have one it's good (not great) sign that the DVD is a bootleg. Most official Japanese DVDs have Japanese language only, although there are few exceptions such as Saikano and the some of the Ghibli movies. Also most bootlegs have no extras on the DVDs, Official DVDs, usually have clean opening/endings trailers etc, although not always so a lack of extras isn't always the sign of a bootleg.

Remember to check the official websites of Anime distrubutors for DVD episode counts, extra listings, pictures of DVD Artwork (as often Bootlegs with have completely different Artwork to Official sets) etc. Below is a incomplete list of Anime distrubutor websites;

R1 - North America" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false; (now dead)" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;

R2 - U.K" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;

R4 - Australia" onclick=";return false;

AnimeOnDVD also has a fairly complete list of information regarding DVD artwork, special features, number of discs etc on their review database." onclick=";return false; . The site also includes a studio directory" onclick=";return false; which includes a list of DVD titles for each distributor and website details.

Buying from Ebay - Ebay is a haven for bootlegs but remember if a DVD has more than one of the following traits it is likely a bootleg;

Region 0
26 Episodes spread across 3 discs.
Chinese Audio/Subtitles
No Extras
Cardboard Packaging
Shipped from China/ Hong Kong
Price £5-20

The easiest way to keep clear of Bootlegs is to stay away from Ebay, Auction sites, and the likes of Amazon Market place. Buy from trusted retailers like, etc. If you are in doubt about whether a DVD is a bootleg or not, or if a site is legitimate, then PM myself or check the sites listed above.

Remember if something looks to good to be true. It probably is.

Project2501: Also to add to this, Studio Ghibli have NEVER released a boxed set of films. These are for sale via Amazon marketplace as well as ebay. Be careful.

If in doubt ask on the forum and we will help you out. Bootleggers make a huge amount of money from unsuspecting buyers and this money goes straight into their pockets.
I am the project code named two-five-zero-one, The Puppet Master

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