Are These Netflix DVDs Legit?

There are few companies that we love more than Netflix. Usually their service and support are top-notch among DVD renters. However, Consumerist Forums reader “muffinman” has a concern. He has been receiving what he believes are counterfeit DVDs and has some compelling photo evidence. Please help us crack the case and tell us what you think. His letter and pictures inside…

Hey everybody,
I know Netflix is usually pretty cool about problems but today I received a couple discs and for the fourth time now- they’re copies. Not even good ones. I called them once again and was ‘personally’ assured that ‘human eyes check every disc that comes back’ and that they could not be fakes. Its easy to spot them, the labels are wrong, usually obviously home-made, the menus work incorrectly, etc.. they’re shoddy

Here’s the brief history of the 4 incidents:
“Bleach” discs 6 & 7 -Early Feb- Netflix apologized, sent me a bonus disc. That’s right, ONE bonus disc for two horked ones.

“Full Metal Alchemist” discs 2, 3, 4- End of Feb – Netflix guy questions how i could know if a disc is fake. I offer to send pictures, he says that’s not possible. Apologizes and sends bonus disc.

“Full Metal Alchemist” disc 6 – Mid March – This one is from the same batch of fakes as the last. Netflix again questions how I could possibly know its fake. Offer to send pictures of this one, again told no and offered replacement disc.

“Bones” discs 3 & 4 – 4/26/08 – I’m willing to admit i might be wrong on these. If i’m right, these fakes are less obvious but the episodes don’t match up. Says 7-10 but its actually 6-9. Even better, Netflix has taken the actual Bones discs which are two-sided, and given me maybe-bootlegs that are one-sided. So, for example, the real disc 2 has episodes 7-10 on side A & 11-12 on side B. But these are one-siders they sent me, so (even if they are not “fakes”) i still had to waste a disc just to get the WHOLE one. Shady at best, Netflix.!

Here is a “Bones” season 1, disc 3 DVD. Muffinman says it has a paper label. If it is a Netflix split disc should it say Netflix on it?
dvdbones.jpg

Here is a genuine “Bones” disc 2 from Blockbuster. Note the only writing is in the center of the disc. (below)
dvdblock.jpg
Left: A genuine “Full Metal Alchemist” disc 3. Right: Suspected fake “Full Metal Alchemist” disc 2. Both are from Netflix. (below)
dvdalchem.jpg

Muffinman also says the play surfaces look normal and silver to him, not purple colored. We aren’t familiar with Netflix’ policy on splitting out double discs and whether they should be marked with a Netflix logo is unclear. We have never heard of paper labels being used in any professional application. What say you, Consumerists? Are these discs legit?

Netflix sending bootlegs? [Consumerist Forums]

Comments

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  1. snazz says:

    I got a DVD from Netflix for the movie “Dedication” that stated on the first screen that “This DVD is for sale only.”

  2. Raignn says:

    I’m thinking probably no. Although it’s not completely surprising that Netflix doesn’t ACTUALLY hand check every DVD. Every once in a while we’ll get a DVD in the mail that has a huge crack in it, that clearly would have been noticeable. No biggie, we just report it.

    Looks like you stumbled onto a weird set of fake DVD’s (since most are from the same series). Netflix should do some investigating to see if perhaps this is tied to a specific customer.

  3. baristabrawl says:

    I keep thinking Netflix is too good to be true. We love them.

    However, I thought that movie companies were producing special disks just for netflix? I could be wrong.

  4. Kat@Work says:

    meh – They might be fakes, but that’s some pretty fancy printing on the label to be a fake… I don’t know.

    I know I have gotten discs that are “for rental only” and some that look retail, and some that say they’re two sided but aren’t… who knows.

    I don’t really care to be honest – I pay for a service and they provide it – I don’t really care if the movie studios get paid like they should for the movies.

  5. MexiFinn says:

    Yeah, I also got a “This DVD for is for sale only” message on a copy of The Mist that I just watched.

    Never seen the funky labels tho.

  6. lilkeith7 says:

    Ive gotten quite a few TV shows through netflix and they have always been the originals. My guess is that its somebody in their warehouse burning them and then stealing the originals

  7. bdsakx says:

    I have wondered about this same exact issue! I recently rented “Michael Clayton” and the compression was noticeable, the disc label was amazingly plain (like the ones pictured above), and I put it in my computer and saw the disc was 4.3-something gigabytes. Usually DVD movies come on those 7+GB discs? I didn’t think much of it at first – I just watched the movie as usual. Seeing this brought up confirms my suspicion that my rental was probably a counterfeit.

  8. JohnnyKorea says:

    First off, Netflix should know that the “hallmark” of a DVD isn’t the lack of a silvery playing surface. Professional bootleg operations aren’t churning out homemade looking discs, they’re churning out professional grade discs that look legitimate even to the trained eye. My prediction is that Netflix is getting some of their DVDs from a wholesale group in China/Hong Kong/elsewhere that is passing off bootlegs as the real thing.

  9. helloashley says:

    I received that strange Bones disc as well. At the time, I thought it was that Netflix received “special” rental DVDs instead of normal consumer ones.

  10. I’ve noticed that some disks are “odd” looking, like the 2 disks you can rent of the 90′s anime “reboot”. But I think that some of the anime titles might be a special deal that netflix got with the publishers like ADV or US Manga Corps to sell “rental only” copies to netflix for a discounted price.

  11. DVnLRmxZBj5 says:

    I rent a lot of movies. After switching from Blockbuster to Netflix, the first thing I noticed was about a third of the Netflix DVDs have exactly the same label on the disk: the same color & design, no graphics, no description, just the title, and very simple printing — regardless of the studio.

    Clearly these are dups. I also have to assume Netflix has permission, ’cause they’re not trying to hide it.

  12. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    In the volumes Netflix purchases discs, I wouldn’t be surprised if they came off the B or C line at the duplicating house, where the labels aren’t as fancy (read: much cheaper).

    You know BMG and Columbia House CDs? The ones where you get a crate full for a penny? Those are from the B lines, duplicated from the masters on the same equipment but have some quality issues that result in a less than 100% accurate pressing of the master disc. Thanks to error correction on CDs you won’t hear the difference, but they are slightly less resilient when additional damage occurs due to mishandling.

    I imagine DVD duplication with similar (but more evolved data correction) would have similar A/B/C lines.

    Personally, I sometimes wish they had counterfeits when they lose all copies of a movie that’s out of print, but that’s just me.

  13. Lucky225 says:

    Reminds me of the shady VHS rental places from the ’80s with dub VCRs in the back to have more rentals available to make more $$.

  14. esd2020 says:

    Well, movie companies *wish* they could restrict movies to “sale only.”

    But once you buy a DVD, you own it. You can resell it on eBay or loan it to other people.

  15. arniec says:

    Heh…this would be a problem for me but I only rent their HD DVD and Blu Ray options, and to my knowledge those aren’t (cheaply) counter fitted. Yet.

  16. esd2020 says:

    Perhaps they burn copies to replace scratched/destroyed copies?

  17. What The Geek says:

    The pictures are inconclusive to me. Had he compared the same disc from another source to the suspected fake (disc three to disc three, not disc two) we’d have a little more to go on. I’d also like to see some hi res pics of the bottoms of the discs.

  18. trecool95 says:

    Maybe Netflix copying discs to increase profit margin.

  19. Maybe this is why they are having their FANTASTIC used DVD sale.

  20. montag007 says:

    bdsakx: standard single layer DVDs are 4.7gigs. Multi layer DVDs are 9+gigs, i would be surprised if you were getting 9+gig DVDs from Netflix…
    [en.wikipedia.org]

  21. parad0x360 says:

    Sometimes for TV shows the netflix disks are not the same as retail disks. I rented some TV’s shows and ran into the same episode problem. The sleeve would say EP X-X and so would the site but then the disk would only have 2 of the 3 or 4 episodes on it. The disk was legit, you could tell it wasnt a standard DVD-/+R but i wasnt too happy when i didnt get all my episodes.

    I’ve also rented Planet Earth twice from netflix. One instance I got the USA edition of the HD-DVD instead of the BBC edition yet the sleeve and page was marked as BBC. The USA edition has a different person doing narration and the episodes are also split differently on the disks. So I ended up only getting to watch 1 show because the other 2 were on the first (BBC) disk I got

  22. esd2020 says:

    @Kat@Work: I agree. If you’re going to make a fake label with a realistic-looking color logo for the DVD… why not just scan & copy the real disc label?

  23. Chongo says:

    As someone who works in the DVD industry (or at least reporting on it) I can tell you that it is QUITE easy to get access to the studio sites for DVD boxart (or disc art).

    Sometimes its a joke how little effort the studios put into labeling their products… so it is possible some of these are real.

    if it does NOT have a copyright line (including sub studios and production companies) or a CARA rating (with the little world symbol and registered mark) AS WELL AS an explanation of why it is rated what it is, then it is most likely NOT legit.

  24. el_smurfo says:

    With the volumes of DVDs flowing through the crappy USPS, I would guess Netflix can burn their own copies at will?

  25. TheKingBoar says:

    I think they are fake. It is incredibly easy to create good looking labels for your DVD’s now a days, especially with technology like lightscribe. Perhaps the biggest indicator is that they don’t fit in with the artwork on the other DVD’s from the set. Production studios spend a lot of money producing these movies, and they would probably keep all the disks consistent. Thats another reason I think they’re fake. Another telling factor is that other commenter’s have been finding the disks are highly compressed. There are some programs which do the compression so well that you can’t tell the difference, but there’s no way a movie company would do that before sending it out. Dual layer DVD’s have really fallen in price now that there’s Blu-ray, but most people don’t have Dual layer burners, and thus compress them.

    I used to work at Hollywood Video, and we had this happen all the time. Customer’s would bring back burned copies, or home movies, thinking we wouldn’t notice. We did. A piece of advice however: if you’re going to return one of your burned movies in place of ours, make sure it’s not kiddie porn. This actually happened once, and since the system remembers the last person who rented a DVD for this reason, the guy was caught.

    I’m not an expert, but I do have a little experience with this, and I think that the movies are fake. There’s too many corners being cut for it to be the studio or Netflix. For Netflix, it’s an error to use human eyes to check every disk. Humans can forget what a disk is supposed to look like, and as long as it has a semi-legit looking cover, they’ll accept it without knowing that its a copy. A machine however, could tell that that wasn’t the way the cover was supposed to look, and stop it.

  26. Bladefist says:

    Well I mean step one, is the bottom of the disk purple? If they are pressing dvd, well thats just impressive and they get a pass.

  27. Bladefist says:

    @anonymousryan: Seconded. Add Smallville.

  28. WhirlyBird says:

    Perhaps shady users are keeping the originals, and returning homemade copies, designed to fool the entry-level drones who open NetFlix’ incoming mail?

    I’m actually considering this myself, now that Consumerist has induced me to infringe copyright. Thanks, Consumerist!

  29. PeteyNice says:

    I would say half the DVDs I get from Netflix look like these “counterfeit” DVDs. For reference mine come from Duluth, GA outside Atlanta.

  30. Bladefist says:

    what I’m guessing is people accidentally send back the dvd they copied, and the ones with labels are mistakenly put back in stock. And the ones without labels just go to the trash. Bet thats the case.

  31. Chongo says:

    BTW I meant to also state that Television shows sometimes have different requirements with copyright and ratings but generally the copyrights are the biggest clue.

  32. .apostle. says:

    ..of course, if I was some a$$hole kid, maybe trying to build a dvd collection, I’d probably keep the originals and burn copies to return to Netflix. Chances are, nobody there is really checking to see if the art matches the studio release…

    ya think?

  33. Bix says:

    FYI, for those who are saying that “maybe they’re copies made by a staffer or whomver,” it can’t be if the bottom of the disc is silver. All burned discs have purple bottoms (or green if they’re rewritable discs).

    Also, keep in mind that while it’s not shown in the blog post, mentioned in the letter and pictured in the blog post are faulty and poorly designed menus that are different from the originals.

    My guess is that pressed bootlegs from a piracy-happy country somewhere in Asia.

  34. gamin says:

    I always had this idea in my head, since netflix has to buy bulk, they probably have some kind of contract with studios to get “generic” dvd’s. I mean no colorfull or flashy covers. maybe that’s what it is. But hey that’s just me

  35. Bladefist says:

    @.apostle.: I would say its more of an accident. That’s flirting with copyright infringement or atleast losing your netflix account, as soon as one of the employees noticed.

  36. revox says:

    These grey discs have been going out for years. They’re cheaper to print for the studios – no color screens, etc.

    [www.hackingnetflix.com]

  37. stinerman says:

    @Bladefist:

    What makes you think it’s accidental?

  38. stinerman says:

    @esd2020:

    If so they’re committing massive willful copyright infringement. Enough that they’d be out of business if they copied any more than a handful of titles.

  39. alilz says:

    You might want to send this info over to the Hacking Netflix blog. They dont hack netflix, but it’s info about Netflix and other online rental businesses, they might have some idea of what’s going on or how to get a better response from Netflix.

  40. Bix says:

    @Jason Ferguson:

    We’re not just talking about the disc art, though. The menus are messed up/wrong. Plus, the disc art looks much, much more questionable than the example grey disc at Hacking Netflix and others such as…

    @bdsakx:

    …are saying they’re overly compressed on single layer DVDs (still cheaper even if it’s a pressed DVD).

  41. Sunshinelollipopsandrainbows says:

    I’ve never gotten an obviously bootlegged dvd from Netflix, but I’ve definitely had the “split double disc” thing happen many, many times. I watched most of West Wing seasons 1-5 via Netflix, which are supposed to be double-sided discs with 4 (or 3) episodes to a side. Splitting the discs stretches a 4 disc season into a 7 or 8 disc one, which, if you’re on the 1 or 2 at a time plan, like I was, can take up almost 2 months of subscription time.

  42. mac-phisto says:

    @esd2020: not to get into an IP debate here, but i think you’re only partially correct. true, you can buy a dvd & watch it, loan it, sell it on ebay, but you CAN’T publicly show it, rent it, or charge your friends to come over & watch it. the generation of revenue from the title activates the owner’s right to royalty payments.

    netflix could be in some trouble for renting “sale only” dvds (assuming they came by them in a non-legitimate way). more likely, a subscriber lost their rented copy & bought a replacement.

  43. bravo369 says:

    did they not play? whats the problem? it’s not like you bought the cd’s and keeping it forever in your collection. Watch the show and send them back. Maybe put a note saying that it’s counterfeit.

  44. jeffjohnvol says:

    My brother in law did a case study on Netflix when he was working on his MBA. They almost went bankrupt when they were purchasing the movies, then they went into a profit sharing plan with the movie companies, and I don’t know if they have done this, but I imagine they have the right to copy them as long as they keep track, since they work with the movie houses.

  45. Carencey says:

    Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever received a double sided disc from Netflix. When I buy DVDs, they frequently have the special features on the other side, but Netflix discs almost never do. A lot of times I get discs that I can tell were intended to be two-sided, but were split into separate discs. These did not have the fake looking labels, and on the outside of the envelope was a note to the effect of “Please note. Although the menu indicates that special features are located on the reverse of this disc, they are on a separate disc.” Or something like that, that’s my wording. I had thought that meant that the distribution companies made a special version for large rental operations like Netflix, although I don’t really know why they can’t just send us a double-sided disc.

    Also, does anyone really know what happens when you submit a damage report to Netflix? Does that flag the disc you’re returning for checkup?

  46. samurailynn says:

    I remember noticing this once, and my husband suggested that Netflix has the ability to print their own copies of the DVDs. Basically, that they have some kind of agreement that allows them to print multiple copies when movies first come out since they will be in higher demand, or because so many of the movies will be damaged or lost due to the mailing system. It made sense to me, but I’ve never seen anything official stating that this was the case.

  47. PinkBox says:

    My guess is that someone is copying the discs, keeping the original for their own collection, then sending Netflix the copy.

  48. fluiddruid says:

    Couldn’t this be done by customers, too? I doubt the staff is very well trained to spot fake discs, so it would be easy to snag the originals and replace them with fakes. Once they’re in circulation, it’d be hard to pinpoint which customer did it.

  49. Bix says:

    @Carencey:

    Double-sided DVDs kinda suck horribly in that they are really easy to damage (compared to regular DVDs) so I could maybe see the studios providing 2-disc versions of double-sided discs when asked.

    I’m pretty sure that I’ve gotten double-sided discs from them, but I guess it could be on a case by case basis.

  50. ludwigk says:

    @Bix: not true. I’ve purchased bulk DVDr media that was silver dye instead of purple. Also, the written portion was practically undetectable, much like commercial discs. They weren’t special, or proprietary, and came from a well known reputable vendor. there are a number of different dyes that dvdrs can be based on. Purple and light blue are just the most common.

  51. garykung says:

    They are not fake. They are the no distributed (for sale) version of the DVD.

    Somehow I have been wondering the same problem, that how come every single DVD that I rent is alike. Then I look that the DVD itself, and it says it is for rental only.

    So I think those are the special rental edition…

  52. Bix says:

    @ludwigk:

    Got a link? As someone who does a lot of DVD burning, I’d love to see them. I remember silver dye CD-Rs being around at one point but I’ve never seen silver dye DVD+-Rs.

    @garykung:

    This doesn’t explain the messed up menus, the compression on Michael Clayton mentioned by a commenter, or the episodes not matching the listing on the top of the disc.

  53. midwestkel says:

    @esd2020: Just because you buy a DVD and you are legally able to change ownership does not mean you can rent it out for profit if it says that.

    @montag007: The DVD’s you are talking about are the DVD’s consumers can buy from the stores for personal use.

    Every movie I have seen has been more than 5.0GB and they are pressed, thats why they are silver or gold on the bottom.

    You can get bootleg copies of DVD’s from overseas that are pressed, so they dont have the purple or green bottoms so you cant dismiss them as genuine.

  54. rogXue says:

    I always thought this was a “duh” situation. I get tv seasons from netflix all the time and they are always laser ripped copies with lightscribe (grey label with silver wording. Just figured it was something Netflix did. I never see any quality differences so I’d assume they use either dual layer or high quality disks. Not really a big deal to me.

  55. trujunglist says:

    They are real. Netflix gets discounts in volume, wouldn’t you think, considering how much business they do with the studios? I’m sure the studios could care less if Netflix gets the premium label DVDs. Yes, Netflix occasionally screws up episode listings and what not too, causing extra confusion.
    I’ve had so many discs that had basically plain labels, and the format for the labeling is the same across different movies, as mentioned just above.

  56. randomd00d says:

    How is this a Netflix problem?

    Do the DVDs consistently fail to work?

    Are the labels so fake that a casual visual inspection could reasonably be expected to pick them out?

    If not, then it is not their problem and really shouldn’t be you problem either. I think we have bigger customer service issues to gripe about, other than unusual labels on functional DVDs.

    They probably buy bulk licenses for content and can burn their own replacements when they get damaged or lost.

  57. jamar0303 says:

    Hmmm. I would have thought that they were one probably made for an Asian country and have crappier menus and labeling to cut costs (or because they’re produced independently) to compete with pirates (living in China I can say that this happens; legit licensed CDs/DVDs cost about 1/4 or less of what they do in the States). But, the logos say otherwise…

  58. jamar0303 says:

  59. goose666 says:

    I have bought several anime titles that have fake seeming discs. Perhaps the US versions of some anime releases are of a much lower quality than those for other regions. Two examples are Witch Hunter Robin and Rozen Maiden.

  60. cronick says:

    I have worked for one of the largest home entertainment divisions at one of the largest studios in L.A. for over 10 years. Before that I was an art director developing packing and advertising art for VHS tapes and DVDs.

    These are all legit, albeit from Netflix likely scratched and covered with peanut butter (they should have an allergy warning).

    The grey ones are special Netflix editions. Though the content is the same, they cost much less to manufacture.

    Back in the day, Blockbuster started the trend by demanding that the studios produce “clean” versions of films that excluded any romantic scenes. Oddly though, violence was perfectly fine with them.

  61. sprocket79 says:

    I rented House season 1 off Netflix, which is supposed to be 3 double-sided discs when you buy them retail, but was actually 6 single discs on Netflix. The menus confirmed the original set-up because they all said something like “Disc 1 side A” (I can’t remember the exact phrasing). I chose to compare it to the library versions of audiobooks that come in a different case than the retail version. I don’t think it’s nefarious on Netflix’s part. They’re a fairly large business. They would be in huge trouble with the studios if this was not something sanctioned.

  62. Bix says:

    @randomd00d:

    The menus appear to not be working properly on at least 1 DVD.

    @goose666:

    The fake-seeming disc was compared to a legit US disc that was not low quality at all.

    @cronick:

    The Blockbuster thing is sort of an urban legend. The only movies cut were NC-17 and unrated movies that were then re-rated R.

  63. Copper says:

    I’ve gotten a few of the gray TV shows discs and some of them were supposed to be two-sided, but they’re all one-sided when I get them from Netflix. I always figured they had worked something out with the studios to get cheaper discs.

  64. @trecool95: More likely, people are duping the disks, stealing the originals, and returning the dupes to Netflix. You gotta watch it when you do that, though. Somebody complains, “hey, this is a copy,” and they know already by the number on the sleeve who had it last.

  65. Mr. Cynical says:

    It’s funny but every DVD I have gotten from them recently has been a normal gray color with the title in Black- nothing fancy, nothing at all.

    I wouldn’t be surprised by this at all. Or maybe Netflix sends out burned copies on purpose so people don’t jack/break the real ones?

  66. Mom2Talavera says:

    My Netflix DVDs come looking one of four ways:

    A: I will revive a DVD with original artwork on the disk WITH a red sticker in the center that reads “property of Netflix” ( i.e weeds)

    B: ..or a plain gray/silver DVD with just the name of the movie printed on it With none of the original artwork ( ie. Cloverfield)

    C……sometimes the Netflix logo is also printed on these sliver DVDs

    D:…or a DVD with original art without stupid red sticker
    (ie. Juno)

  67. Bix says:

    Jay, could you someone else with the capability please edit the original post to explain that it’s not a customer-burnt copy because those would have purple bottoms and Muffinman says that these have silver bottoms? Eleventy zillion people keep commenting that it’s a possibility without reading the comments which explain that it’s not.

  68. triple says:

    The Fullmetal Alchemist disc is a confirmed fake. I own all 7 volumes and they all have the black alchemy circle design.

  69. jld says:

    Netflix is allowed to reproduce DVDs if it needs, hence they print discs with pretty generic labels.

  70. Carencey says:

    @Bix: Thanks, I figured there had to be a reason there. Actually, now that I rack my brain, I think I may have gotten a few of the older ones where they have the fullscreen on one side and the widescreen on the other, just not ones where they had the special features on the other side.

  71. Bix says:

    @jld:

    Got a source for that?

  72. BrockBrockman says:

    I’ve never seen this with Blockbuster … Is this a Netflix only thing?

    Compression suffers enough on DVD; I can’t imagine that these counterfitters have the decency to actually rip them onto dual-layer disks.

    Netflix ought to look into this.

  73. ludwigk says:

    @Bix: I just looked up the DVDR’s that I thought I was thinking of, and they’re the standard purple. I think that I was thinking about CDR media, which definitely comes in silver.

    I take it all back. DVDR’s are only silver in the unfettered expanses of my imagination.

  74. esd2020 says:

    @midwestkel:

    Err. Yes, it does. What law prevents me from renting out a disc that I own and am legally allowed to sell?

    This is the whole point of the First Sale Doctrine. Once a copyright holder sells me a copy of their work, they no longer have say over what I do with it (provided I don’t break any laws, of course).

    Movie studios (and certainly book publishers!) might wish it weren’t true, but if you own a DVD or a book, you can loan it to as many people as you want. So long as you don’t copy it or perform it.

    There’s no such thing as a “sale only” DVD

  75. Mary says:

    Since this seems to be effecting a lot of anime, what I say you should do is email the distributor of that particular title. When I was having trouble with bootleggers on half.com and ebay, I emailed them and they were very informative and helpful. I’m sure they could help clear this up.

  76. Triterion says:

    I bet some are review copies that are legit. I bought a DVD from a non-chain store and I didn’t notice it said ‘not for sale’ on the box and DVD. If it’s the same quality I wouldn’t worry too much.

  77. mike says:

    I want to give NetFlix the benefit of doubt here. I don’t use Netflix (don’t watch enough movies to warrant it).

    My guess is that they are either copies that they produce in-house but still pay royalities or copies to replace damaged DVD’s. I would think everything is on the up-and-up.

  78. Bix says:

    There’s no way that Netflix is copying themselves, if just because Netflix setting up a DVD pressing factory would be news. Plus, the studios would never, ever allow it.

  79. darkinfero says:

    I’m a heavy netflix user and they make their own dvds to send out because alot of film company’s alow them to do it because of there massive volume and the fees they pay to do it.

  80. camille_javal says:

    @esd2020: Yes, I was going to say, 17 U.S.C. § 109 woo-hoo!

    Unless they’ve figured a way to make you sign/click-sign a EULA on a movie, you can rent, sell, or set on fire any single copy of a film you actually buy, so long as you don’t reproduce it or “publicly perform” it.

  81. dveight says:

    I just notice this recently also when I had rented Battlestar Galactica Season 3. All the disc except disc 3 had a very plain grey printing. They played just fine and they where dual-layered disc. Now disc 3 was in color and was all pretty looking with a picture of a cast member, I forgot who. Beyond that, all the disc played fine and the menus works. So what gives? Well, I say lets look at this from a cost point of view. What cost more, a pretty color print job, or a gray print job with black letter? With the volume that Netflix is getting these DVD’s do you really think they are going to expend anymore money then they have too? It’s a cost cutting method. Get over it.

  82. jefino says:

    They are not fakes..

  83. I am a former Netflix employee. The discs are most likely legit. They are the bulk purchase discs provided by the studios. Depending on the number purchased and the procedures of the individual studio, the discs come in bulk format on a spindle. The disc content is usually the same, though if there has been a deal made to split double discs or other issues, there might be a custom version created for that set, possibly even custom one-off menus. This is due to the fact that Netflix will often purchase 10-20,000 or more copies at a time, and can negotiate the changes.

    It is possible that a user could burn copies and replace the original, but probably unlikely. Most of the bulk discs I’ve seen are grey label, but there are a lot of different manufacturers, and they may change the specs often.

  84. MariabellaAlope says:

    Fake Netflix DVDs? Not So Much I work in the home video department of a studio, and
    Netflix has been ordering “gray scale” from us for
    awhile. The gray ink somehow makes this disc stronger,
    which is better when they get sent back and forth all
    the time. Also, they have requested that we begin
    splitting dual sided discs. They claim the extra
    layers make the disc more delicate and prone to
    breakage. Some of us wonder if they’re just trying to
    give consumers a little less product for their
    subscription money.

  85. weezedog says:

    Has anyone noticed that the Bones label is not centered on the disc? Real DVDs are silk screened in a machine, and the labels are always centered perfectly. The Bones label is clearly not genuine.

  86. Maybe they get some specifically made by the studios for rental. Ask the studio that makes the film about it, next time, not Netflix.

  87. Angryrider says:

    Dang, I wanna work for Netflix. They’ve got a bootleggin’ operation!

  88. chicagojim says:

    @nothingistrue:

    You hit it on the head. Just like I log into volume licensing servers for software (because maintaining over 200 Microsoft disks is a pain in the butt)Netflix bulk purchases stipped-down bulk copies of movies. If you have noticed, lag time for receiving new releases has dropped considerably since this format was implemented a year or two ago. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a content server at Netflix with a capability to press DVDs as needed. The whole thing could be electronically licensed and controlled. Netflix gets the releases ready for Tuesday shipment quicker and the cost of media and jacketing is absorbed by them, not passed on by the movie houses. Pretty much how Koolconnect and Lodgenet handle digital media content to hospitality (without the DVD pressing aspect of the process).

    It will be interesting to see if this starts happening with the Blu-Ray movies as well.

  89. Lazlo Nibble says:

    @midwestkel: There is no such thing as a shrinkwrap “no rentals allowed” license for home video under US copyright law. If a copyright holder wants to prevent rental of a home video, they have to make it an explicit contractual condition in the terms of sale. (Which may be the case for Netflix’s bulk-purchased DVDs.)

  90. Bix says:

    None of this explains the faulty menu, though, the paper label instead of silk-screening (which just looks bad even if it’s legitimate), or why Netflix doesn’t mention it in their FAQ specifically so people don’t think they’re getting bootlegs.

  91. macdude22 says:

    Almost all of my TV disks these days come looking very similar. Drab white/grey plain looking label. Since I’ve gotten so many that look like this I naturally assumed they were special disks for Netflix (why bother with a fancy color label for rental disks). Often stuff like house indicates that it’s a double sided disk when it’s not, again I chalked that up to special disks for NetFlix while not updating the structure of the disks.

    I’ve seen nothing here to indicate that special disks for Netflix aren’t the case. This is a non-story, the kind consumerist is becoming famous for these days (I’m looking at you sack of Amazon stories).

  92. Bix says:

    Special discs for Netflix doesn’t explain a faulty menu.

  93. Canoehead says:

    There may be instances where an older DVD was “retail only” but now it is the only version availible and the studio doesn’t mind that it is being rented. I’d imagine that Netflix has some really interesting licenses with the studios. For instance, for new releases of big hits, they will need a ton of copies. Since they don’t use the cases, the studio could just deliver spindles of disks, with an agreement and limited license that 80% will be used up or destroyed by the end of the first year.

  94. thalia says:

    No way they hand-check every DVD. I had a friend last year who burned one of their DVDs and then accidentally shipped back the burned copy (which was obviously burned…it was one of the yellow ones with DVD+R on it and the title written in permanent marker on it!) and they never heard back about it, and kept getting DVDs like normal.

    If someone at Netflix had checked that DVD, even an idiot or someone on their first day would have known it wasn’t a legit copy.

  95. Bladefist says:

    @stinerman: Because unless you have the real dvd cover right next to you to compare, it would be impossible to tell if its legit or not. Unless we’re dealing with discs w/ a purple back. If they are typical burned dvds that most of us use, then it shouldnt happen.

  96. nardo218 says:

    *sigh* This is unofficial, but I used to do it when I worked: You are allowed to make one copy of a disk you own. When one of their disks get scratched and they have to throw it out, they make a copy of a working disk to replace the lost one.

    This helps Netflix keep costs down and maintain their high standards of service. Don’t ruin things with your petty “clever” whining.

  97. nardo218 says:

    Also, those netflix “copy” cds always have the Netflix logo on them. No one’s stealing anything, this is a corporate policy.

  98. nardo218 says:

    @Carencey: I get lots of double-sided DVDs from netflix, usually older or indie movies.

  99. billy says:

    @esd2020: damn straight. First sale doctrine allows rental of the physical disk.

  100. Zagroseckt says:

    That Full Metal disk is proper.

    one is from a more cimershal / expinsive pressing the other is an elchepo pressing sold in discount stores / last run. sets

    if you run across a burnt disc you’ll know it by the data side. burned discs use a photo sinsative die tuned to the burning lazier pressings have that gold/tin color.
    if you know your disks you can spot it easy.

  101. pastabatman says:

    @Jason Ferguson:
    Agreed.

    I have no clue, but i’ve seen the gray discs MANY times and have never assumed that their pirated by either users (not worth the work for the average movie thief) or especially netflix (why the HELL would they do that? they like the inside of courthouses?)

    the logical, most likely deduction (as others have made) is that they buy BULK from the studios/distributors and both sides have agreed that it’s a waste of money and their profits to rent pretty disks. you watch and return. nobody cares about the disk aesthetic.

    it MUST be as simple as that.

    I have also noticed that smaller movies (indie or not huge hits) ARE the fancy discs as – again if you think about it – both netflix and the studios aren’t even gonna press enough of them to worry about gigantic orders and discounts.

  102. XTC46 says:

    @esd2020: actually there are special licenses for renting movies. when I worked at Blockbuster, the dvds cost over 100 a piece becasue they were to be rented out. otherwise places like blockbuster would only have to rent each disc 4 times to turn a profit, not 20 times…

  103. redhelix says:

    Netflix probably bought rights to make copies of movies they’re licensed to rent, up to the point where they have a certain number of copies in circulation. This isn’t rocket science.

  104. z4ce says:

    xtc.. sorry but that’s wrong. There have been court cases that reaffirm no special license is needed to rent a movie. It is completely legal within current copyright laws (until the MPAA can buy new ones).

    [entrepreneurs.about.com]

  105. haroldetmaude says:

    I work for a major studio in the department that supplies masters to Netflix. I also have a friend at netflix that coordinates the duplication and licensing for movies, AND I have a friend that writes the reviews for the netflix movies.

    Ok, Here’s how it works. The studio works out a license agreement on each title with netflix , this is established before ANY copies or formatting is done with the masters. The masters are supplied to netflix and the duplication is done at a duplication facility. I’m sure they can work to get just copies of the movies in their regular packaging if that comes out to be a better price per unit However, it is VERY likely that you will get something that appears to be a fake.

    The paper labels are just cheap… We used those for a while, but the laser on the DVD is much nicer but costs a little more. So.. more than likely you have a cheap dub that came from lightening dubs or something where they still use paper labels.

    This whole thing is lame, because there is not some conspiracy about Netflix making copies… this is just how it works with the studios and vendors. I’m sure netflix throws away a TON of dvd’s everyday. a disk traveling through the mail, sitting on someone’s floor with kids trampling all over it for a month or more, and then having it returned through the mail. They are bound of throw some of them out. So, having a cheaper duplication rate and cheap labels actually makes sense.

  106. ByeBye says:

    Netflix has been doing this for a couple of years. They do buy in bulk (how else can they meet demands with so many customers?) I heard they buy a bulk of 20,000 copies for something like $50k per title. I have gotten tons of these and the movies work just fine – I don’t think the person who rented these knew how the menus worked.

  107. wildness says:

    @haroldetmaude: Sounds about right to me – Lightning Dubs would be the place to get their work done.

  108. ByeBye says:

    @TheManator: All they have to do is put on the title of movie, disc name (if needed), and copyright information.

  109. wesrubix says:

    @pastabatman: amen!

    I don’t care what the disc looks like! I rented it to watch the movie, not ogle the label.

  110. dazzlezak says:

    4.3gb versions of DVD’s are copies/bootlegs from soneones (i.e. Not Netflix’s) computer that some clown has compressed, copied and returned the copy to Netflix.

    Commercial DVD’s are dual layered and are 7+ GB and will not copy on a cheap dvd burner (you need a dual layer burner and dual layer disks)

  111. kyle4 says:

    These are absolutely bootlegs. I’m certain because the covers of those discs are done in the exact same way that my friend who gets bootlegs look like. It might be a certain customer doing it, Netflix should definitely look into it.

  112. barty says:

    @montag007: Movie DVDs have always been dual layer. That’s why you’ll see a small pause in the middle of some movies.

    I think Netflix is buying “volume” copies, which have very plain labels. I’ve noticed that on many movies I’ve received lately, they all have rather dull looking labels. Do I really care? No. Though I don’t buy many DVDs new anymore, I would rather prefer them use the more plain looking labels and packaging just to keep the price down. Its not like I hang them on the wall for decoration.

  113. MonkeySwitch says:

    I just don’t think that Netflix would risk their ass on something like bootlegging.
    But I also don’t believe that a person looks at every disk or could be expected to know what the disc art for thousands of movies should look like. What seems more likely to me is that either a) they are buying wholesale lots that aren’t manufactured as well or b) people are ripping the discs and putting the copy back in the sleeve. But B seems kind of far fetched to me, so I’m going with option A.

  114. Bix says:

    Anyone who thinks that Netflix is bootlegging is an idiot, and I really don’t think it was anyone’s intention either.

    If they ARE bootlegs, then all that anyone was implying was that Netflix bought some discs from a wonky distributor in Bootlegistan.

  115. Mrs. Nusbaum's Credit Card says:

    just because something is on a single layer disc does not mean that it is a copy, there are plenty of commercial DVDs that are single layer…

    certainly not outside the realm of possibility that someone “traded up” by renting anime discs and returning their old bootlegs. This could explain why the discs are not blue/purple. But just cause it’s got a wonky menu doesn’t mean its a bootleg, whatever company released the disc may have just botched the menus.

  116. SinA says:

    several studios are making low-budget versions of dvd’s for netflix without all the extra features and easter eggs so that there’s still an incentive to buy the real thing at full price. i think the cheapo labels and practically disposable discs are along the same lines.

  117. darcymcgee says:

    Be kind, rewind.

  118. Raiders757 says:

    The supposed unofficial discs look just like the Sony DVD+R versions you can get at the local Costco in my area. Plain white, ready for an inkjet printing.

    Sometimes the DVD rental companies get different versions than reatil. I would only be worried if the suspected discs were single layered, while knowing the retail version came on a double layered disc. Your not getting an official copy if the movie is compressed.