Friday, April 4, 2008

The Dirt on Bootleg DVDs

The first time we bought illegal movies on DVD at Pacific Mall, we were really excited. I picked "March of the Penguins" and Ken chose "Borat". We paid $2.50 for each disc.

Back at home, I went straight to the TV to watch my movie. Oh boy! There they were, tubby little penguins trudging stoically across the snow. Cue Morgan Freeman's voice-over:

"Hmmmmmnnn. Mmm nnnn-nnn, hmmm wahhh wah mwaaaaah."

I fiddled with the volume.

"Mrrrrrrm hhmn-nweh, mwaaah-ah-ah mwaaarm," boomed Morgan Freeman.

Yeah, so. Excepting the experience of those gifted, special people who can understand Charlie Brown's teacher, the audio was useless.

Borat was marginally better, as though the audio were being broadcast to us via a badly-tuned AM radio station. You had to do the aural equivalent of squinting to follow the dialogue. Ken gamely watched it all the way through, but I couldn't handle the static.

Months later, we were speaking to acquaintances at a party. We got onto the topic of Pacific Mall and all the wonders to be found therein.

"We love the illegal DVD's!" they said. "We have over 600 at home!"

They revealed to us the secrets of illegal DVD purchasing. Apparently there are several standards of DVD's, and the one we should have bought was DVD 9. Anything less would not do.

Armed with that knowledge, we returned to the mall. DVD 9's only, please! Things went much better. From then on, most of the DVD's we bought were indistinguishable from their legal counterparts.

We'll still occasionally find a disc that won't play, or one that was recorded on a handheld Camcorder from a movie theatre screen. I bought "The Queen", only to find that it was dubbed in Italian and the "English" subtitles were a random mash of non-words. But at that price, you throw a few discs in the trash and still feel that you got a fantastic deal.

Now if only I had time to watch all the movies I bought...


jameil1922 said...

i can't do bootlegs. if i spent $1 i want it to work like i paid 40. that's just the brat in me and i'm ok with that.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I've seen a few bootleg DVD in my day and they were not that great a quality. I would rather rent the real version and get top notch quality. That's just me of course.

Stewie said...

I'm amazed you can get your bootlegs at a mall.

I have to get them the old fashioned way by downloading them.

Or the barbershop.

Leighann said...

My husband once bought some bootleg porn that was in some unrecognizable language. Who really needs to hear actors in porn though, right? ;)

Sparkling Red said...

Jameil: That's reasonable. It is frustrating to find that you've got a lemon.

Ron: It's probably for the best. The movie industry needs someone to make it worth their while to keep producing the movies. I don't want to become an advocate of piracy. Sometimes I suffer from pangs of guilt.

Stewie: The barbershop? Now that's at least as weird as buying them at the mall!

Leighann: It's probably better if you can't understand them, so you don't get too distracted by the terrible acting. ;-)

whatigotsofar said...

I don't care how much the disc costs, I do not want to support illegimate businesses. I am 100% against the bootleg industry. It is not a victim-less crime.

Sparkling Red said...

Whatigotsofar: I figured I'd get at least one objection to my illegal activity. Go ahead, condemn me. I'll hang my head in shame...

Jenski said...

Oooo...this brings me back to my time in China. Talk about movies galore! Their equivalent US price was probably around 75 cents. Some were in VCD format though, and thus two discs, so you had to be careful. VCDs will play on a computer though, which I had with me, so it was perfect!

unsigned said...

All bootleg DVD crime victims step forward. Mister George Lucas how do you feel as a victim of this crime?

"When I found out someone bought a bootleg copy of Attack OF The Clones I was devastated. I felt raped. I was going to buy another Ferrari. I had to delay my purchase by .00001 of a second. It was shocking."

I don't think anyone has to defend the DVD industry. They have plenty of money. They can defend themselves.

If they want copying to stop they should just charge less for the real thing.

Does the guy who holds the microphone on set really need to get paid $85 an hour? Come on. A Mexican can do that for pennies on the dollar.

Do big name actors really need millions to read lines from a script? All the actors are so old now. They're all gray hair and sagging tits. How much do they spend on CGI to make Demi Moore's ass look like it's still tasty? I bet some young actors would do a movie for minimum wage.

If they cut costs a little DVD's would cost about a dollar. Bootleg copies are just the free market responding to market forces. We live in a capitalist economy. If the people vote with their wallets the DVD industry should listen. To do otherwise is just bad business. Anyone with a bad business deserves to lose money.

They're not victims. They're just too lazy to change the way they do business. They've had lots of time to work on piracy. It's been around since the invention of the VCR.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

So basically Unsigned is for Bootleg copies is what I gather :)

R.E.H. said...

I am contradicting myself when I say that I am against bootlegging - since I am guilty of downloading movies illegally off the internet myself (even better than bootleg DVD's... you can burn your own, for virtually no cost).

But, the movies I download are those that I would not spend money on anyway... meaning I would simply wait 'til they're aired on television. They don't deserve a spot in my DVD collection. Good ones, that I really want, I buy retail.

Adressing Unsigned's comment:

It isn't the major movie directors who are affected by the illegal market - it is the distributors. The loss from illegal copying of movies is a multi-billion dollar figure each year. The loss of revenue from legal sales result in the high price tags we see on DVD's today. Lowering the price is not going to stop the pirating, and upping the price will make people opt for bootlegs... it is a vicious circle which needs to be adressed sooner or later, and while bootlegging will forever still be there - the market needs to find a way to balance the two, and still keep the industry financially strong.

Did you see the influx of low-budget crap movies? I can assure you, we all want the big buck industry around so we can enjoy quality movies...

Your comment about actors being old and gray surprises me beyond belief... there are more young stars/starlets in todays film industry than there has ever been. And most careers are much shorter than it used to be in the old days... it is hard to stay at the top for long.

(Sorry about a rather long rant in your comment section)

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: 75 cents? And here I thought $ 2.50 couldn't be beat.

Unsigned: Check it out - there's a full-fledged controversy going on! On one hand, you make a good point about the reality of living in a capitalist economy. On the other hand, I'm definitely not in favour of yet another industry dropping wages to participate in a downward-spiraling price war.

My personal situation is that if I stopped buying illegal DVD's, I wouldn't buy any movies at all. I'm not much of a movie person, so I really could live without them or wait until they play on TV. I only buy the bootlegs because it's easy. Half the time I let them sit for months without watching them. Therefore the movie industry is not losing any money from me. If I buy a movie as a gift, I always get a legit copy.

Ron: It was difficult to work that out from amongst the nuances of his (her?) "see-all-sides" piece here, but I think you got it. ;-)

R.E.H.: No problem about the long comment - I know Unsigned doesn't have a blog or an e-mail, so there's nowhere else to respond. I'm glad that this post generated some heartfelt debate.

My reply to Unsigned basically addresses the points you make in your comment. I'm also not in favour of piracy, and yet I hypocritically participate myself. It's one of the lapses I allow myself. If I always lived by my highest stated principles and insisted that others did the same, I'd probably be insufferable. I've already been told several times that my standards are too high and that this puts people off, so now I sin a little in order to be more human.

Aurora said...

Bootlegs don't play on our machine, sob. Apparently blu-ray is designed with bootleggers in mind. Well, those designers have done a darn good job.

Mad Hatter said...

I have never purchased a bootleg, I have seen a bootleg a friend forced me to watch, the last bootleg I saw was RAY and it was terrible copy.

Nicole said...

The movie guy comes right to our Complex every day, so if anything doesn't work we bring it right back to him and he usually comes up with the real DVD copy ;)

Sparkling Red said...

Aurora: In time, hackers will crack the security features. It seems nothing technical is 100% secure anymore.

Mad Hatter: Oh well, it's probably for the best. At least you're not tempted to break the law.

Nicole: Wow, that's what I call service!

Jocelyn said...

BOOTLEGS are ILLEGAL. That is the work of thousands of people, not just one director or an overpaid actor. You have writers, set builders, costume designers, lighting, and on and on and on-look at the credits sometime (those are just people that get credit). If you don't want to buy the movie, then do without it.

BUYING BOOTLEGS IS STEALING. PERIOD. You wouldn't walk into a video store and walk out with a movie, so buying a bootleg or downloading it is stealing. No excuses, so well, "I only do it sometime." You can justify it any deformed way you want, but it is stealing.

Sparkling Red said...

Jocelyn: For the record I've thought a lot about the subject since publishing this post. I haven't bought any other bootleg DVD's nor been tempted to. Considering what's been brought up, I don't plan to buy any more. I'd rather err on the side of doing the right thing.

Thanks for bringing your opinion. I'm willing to re-evaluate my choices.