Netflix's Statement On "Are These Netflix DVDs Legit?"

After seeing our post where a reader raised concerns about whether Netflix DVDs he got with unofficial-looking labels and messed-up menus were counterfeit, Netflix’s VP of Corporate Communications, Steve Swasey, sent us the following lovenote to calm our fears:

Netflix rents only studio or filmmaker authorized DVDs – no copies. Netflix has more than 100,000 titles on DVD available for rental, so labeling takes many forms. DVDs marked “for sale only” were purchased legally and legitimately by Netflix for rental to Netflix members. And yes, each DVD is individually inspected before it’s shipped.

Netflix ships 1.9 million DVDs on a typical day out of more than 50 distribution centers across the U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii). Occasionally an error occurs and a Netflix member receives the wrong title or a scratched disc. But the probability of a Netflix member receiving a copied disc is very slight. Four copied discs, even less.

Netflix is the #1 rated ecommerce site for customer satisfaction by Nielsen Online and ForeSee Results because of the outstanding convenience, selection and value available to 8.2 million Netflix members. Concerns such as those raised by The Consumerist are extremely rare. But something we’re looking into nonetheless.

Thank you.

PREVIOUSLY: Are These Netflix DVDs Legit?


Edit Your Comment

  1. akede2001 says:

    If agreements are in place, chances are the makers of the discs may skimp on graphical work for the discs. Knowing that they’re just going to be purely for-rent and never sold, there’s little to no reason to use a lot of resources into making the discs pretty.

    However, with all the Chinese bootlegging and counterfeiting that goes on, I would be cautious as a retailer about extremely cheap titles. It may sound like a great deal, until you find out they’re all illegal copies and you owe millions.

  2. nardo218 says:

    That … doesn’t answer a single question addressed in the article.

  3. @nardo218: Like the lady said… thanks for telling us, it’s not likely, but we’ll look into it anyway and let you know what we find out.

  4. socritic says:

    and if they’re not legit, why is it exactly our problem? is it not a problem of the movie industry? are we fighting their battles now? wanna fight for the music industry as well?

  5. Geekybiker says:

    That doesn’t address why the episodes are different on the disc

  6. B says:

    I got a Netflix DVD with a unofficial looking label on it. It seemed to work fine, so I watched it and returned it. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people are renting dvds from Netflix, swapping the good DVD with a counterfit one, and keeping the original for themselves.

  7. mike says:

    @socritic: Well you want to make sure you’re not using stolen property. You could be arrested for having stolen property, even if you bought it legally. It’s rare, but it does happen.

  8. katylostherart says:

    my friend had a disc that said “for rental only” on it.

    it makes sense not to spend all that money on packaging when there’s bulk purchasing.

  9. jdsmn says:

    @sohmc: Are you freaking serious? You will never be convicted of a crime if you unknowingly purchased something stolen.

  10. Askew says:

    I think akede2001 could be right – that Netflix could have a special arrangement with studios.

    I’ve noticed that with most of the new release movies I’ve been getting, there has been little graphics on the DVD itself. They’re typically just solid grey color with the movie title not colored, so the shiny part of the disc shows through.

  11. AT203 says:

    Wow, what a worthless response. 1) A worker on the shipping line is probably “inspecting” thousands of DVDs a day. It is unlikely that they recognize a copied DVD. 2) As far as the same customer getting copied disks more than once. If I remember correctly they were anime titles and parts of the same boxed set. This increases the likelihood that the same customer would be inconvenienced more than once.

    What I find most insulting is that this isn’t a real investigation into the issue. The smug executive feels compelled to respond, but not meaningfully. How can anyone think that these PR fluffspeak is anything but insulting and transparent to their customers??!!

  12. @jdsmn: Ha! You’re joking, right?

  13. TheGoodReverend says:

    @sohmc: On top of jdsmn’s point, no one is alleging that these DVDs are stolen. Copyright infringement isn’t the same thing as theft. It’s a different crime altogether. And it’s not a crime you committed merely by renting a DVD you expected to be legitimate.

  14. diddy0071 says:

    @socritic: because unlike some people (you) some of us are actually honest, and care about things like theft, etc. It may not be our battle, but it could be if Netflix one day decides to check on a movie you returned, only to find out it’s a copy, blaming you, and taking YOU to court. Better safe than sorry I say.

  15. Bay State Darren believes Netflix. Bay State Darren, IHHO, only gave a damn that the DVD’s worked for Netflix customers, legit or not legit.

  16. SirCrumpet says:

    That letter was filled with so much marketing bull that I’m drowning over here.

  17. formatc says:

    They forgot to say that they are taking the matter seriously.

  18. Bix says:


    My thoughts exactly. NOTHING specific rebutting the very specific questions asked by the forum poster and some of the commenters? This letter made me more suspicious than I was before. Good job, Netflix!

  19. Karl says:

    I suspect they’re legitimate, since I’ve received far too many discs from them that have different labels. They’re silkscreened on like normal, but aren’t nearly as fancy.

    One easy(?) way to mark these discs as genuine is to embed some sort of graphic on the data side, like Sega did with their Saturn and Dreamcast games. Since it’s part of the master copy, it doesn’t take any additional effort to stamp these graphics on.

  20. camille_javal says:

    I will note, I imagine film and television distributors are all up Netflix’s ass to make sure counterfeit discs are not distributed.

  21. stevekal says:

    where’s the text link to the netflix free trial. Don’t tell me Steve didn’t include one. Don’t even.

  22. Coelacanth says:

    I love how the Netflix response doesn’t even pretend, in response to the original reader’s claims, to “take it seriously.”

  23. evslin says:

    @Geekybiker: That could just be manufacturer screwup. I’ve seen dumb issues with other anime releases – 2.0 sound on a release that’s supposed to have 5.1, soft subs on top of hard subs, badly-compressed video, etc etc. A labeling gaffe wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  24. evslin says:

    Ah, the disk with the mislabeled episodes wasn’t an anime release.

    Very well, carry on then.

  25. Zagroseckt says:

    Talk about a cookie cutter reply….

    notice just how MANY times the word NetFlix is in there. it’s more a DRILL THE NAME INTO YOUR BRAIN reply by some PR idiot than a real reply. or Explanation.

    So all i Zagroseckt Have to say about the reply from the mail DVD rent thing is that even tho Zagroseckt uses the service he is not happy with the reply.

    and Zagroseckt takes no responsibility to any of Zagroseckts posts including Zagroseckt style spelling and Zagroseckt style syntax.

    in addition Zagroseckt and his or Zagroseckt affileats hold no reponsibilty for Zagroseckt getting stuck in your head the rest of the day..

    Thank you.

    Zagroseckt is a name ownd by Zagroseckt and Zagroseckt LLC of Zagroseck Universal and Zagroseckt Comentary systems of mars. all refrinces to Zagroseck or it’s personal property and all Zagroseck mintel and IT technoligy is copyright Zagroseck name. tm (c) R (r)

    Buy your Verry own Zagroseckt dictonary today and be able to read anything Zagroseckt types without a spellchecker TODAY! ..
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  26. socritic says:

    ladies and gents, point being: Netflix is one of the only companies out there i don’t have much to complain about. I’ve Been a customer for years now and except for the occasional broken disc (which is promptly replaced) and throttling of the cue (which is a necessary evil, as much as i don’t like it) there are much bigger fish to fry. Imagine there wasn’t any netflix, and blockbuster would still be ruling us with brick and mortar hell and late fees. Can we focus our energy on the real bad guys? if you REALLY want to test these alleged fake dvds, don’t just say you care, prove it. Talk is cheap amigos.

  27. cecilsaxon says:

    Wow- that was the written equivelant of tap dancing. Not a single answer to the questions from the original posting- just corporate speak.

  28. admiralguy says:

    I’m beginning to question if the reply from the corporate guy is legit. Did he really just end his letter with “Thank you”? Maybe an assembly worker could inspect his outgoing mail as well.

  29. Lyrai says:

    Er, I think Funimation released a box set of Fullmetal Alchemist last year or so. And I think – don’t quote me on this – that the disc count was different because it was meant to be a nofrills version. Which would make sense why the discs are different – the one on the left is the $25-a-Disc Single editon, the one on the right is from the bulk pack.

  30. jld says:

    What’s so hard to believe about this? If you were going to buy 1,000,000 copies of “Juno” wouldn’t you opt to save a dime each by not having the fancy labels printed on to the discs?

  31. chemman says:

    Well, I didn’t read the original post but I agree with jld, why is it hard to believe that Netflix would be buying in bulk from the studios or direct from the distributor and get a better deal with fancy packing and labeling. Do you think they pay workers to open each DVD from a shrink wrapped case and throw away the case before sending them out? Also, couldn’t you easily tell if the DVD is a bootleg by throwing it in your computer and trying to copy it? If’s encoded it’s probably legit, if it allows you to copy it, then it’s a bootleg right?

  32. lemur says:

    @chemman: I’m under the impression that a copy would contain exactly the same data as the original. Meaning that the copy would be just as “encoded” as the original.

  33. ThunderRoad says:

    It’s pretty easy to pick out copies from originals just by looking at the data-side of the disc and whether it is colored or not. At least that would tell if people are returning copies and keeping originals.

  34. chemman says:

    @lemur: every bootleg I’ve ever seen (note: I’ve never owned one myself, I’ve only seen friends with them ;-)) is not encoded. You need to decode the encryption on studio movies in order to make copies and I’ve never seen users re-encrypt them before burning them to disc.

  35. charlah says:

    I’ve never had any problems with Netflix. I’m glad they exist. This issue seems way overblown anyway…

  36. SuhinaCache says:

    Comment on Netflix’s Statement On “Are These Netflix DVDs Legit?” In regards to Funi’s box reissues of the FMA discs, they are the same
    as the original releases – the ONLY difference is the actual external
    packaging (digipak with slipcase instead of keepcases). Otherwise, the
    DVDs themselves are exactly the same with the same silkscreening.

  37. mk says:

    Maybe it’s because I work in Corporate Communications, but what do you want this guy to say? He said they buy their disks and don’t copy them. He says the inspect their disks. He says it’s unlikely that the disks from the OP are copies, but he’ll look into it. Will he really look into it? Probably not. But what could he say that would make you believe he would look into it? I’m all for more transparency and honest communication from companies, and I think we could have done with less of the marketing drivel. But it’s his job, he answered the question, so what’s the problem?

  38. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @chemman: Yeah, but shouldn’t they at least have the right episodes on the disc?

  39. GrandizerGo says:

    You are wrong there, if you buy a new car from someone for 500 dollars, and it is found to be stolen, you can be arrested for buying stolen goods.

  40. ablestmage says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee (AKA!):

    You can’t be arrested for having stolen property if you can prove where you got it (such as a Netflix envelope) and that you had no reason to believe it was stolen. If the disc itself is stolen, it’s not on your record for watching it, it’s on the dishonest distributor or seller. The worst that could happen is that it could be taken back from you, but you would not be charged. Even with a car.

    The discs in the picture look just fine to me. Some professionally printed discs aren’t near that nice.

  41. Mary says:

    Perhaps he didn’t really do that much talking because the answer is already in the comments of the first post, repeatedly. He clearly read the comments as well as the post.

    The comments state over and over again that these are bulk discs, purchased specifically by Netflix because of the volume.

    The concerns were addressed, he said, “yes, that is correct” and that they would double check to see if they thought somebody really was pulling a great scam on them.

    But honestly, the amount of work that would go into copying a disc and then sending in the copy instead so you keep the original…only to net you the original of a disc you’ve copied (no box art, or even a box at all) seems to be too much effort for too little reward.

    And as Lyrai points out, anime companies are frequently putting out different editions of the same show. Episode counts would be different, labels, extras, etc. They do this pretty consistently, putting out individual discs and then a boxed set, followed by another “ultimate” boxed set, and then perhaps a “no frills” bargain boxed set… It’s really hard to keep track.

  42. richcreamerybutter says:

    @socritic: Imagine there wasn’t any netflix, and blockbuster would still be ruling us with brick and mortar hell and late fees.

    Seriously…even my high-falutin’ neighborhood place is $3.25/night. I’d be broke if I indulged my current cinematic appetite without Netflix.

    It wouldn’t be odd if they purchased special non-fancy discs in bulk from the distributors.

  43. dveight says:

    @Bay State Darren: dveight agrees with Bay State Darren. dveight only cares that he is paying for a service and that the service is provided. Service is being provided, so dveight doesn’t care. dveight want people to get over it!

  44. eightfifteen says:

    Ya know what, I think that Netflix has earned the right to getting the benefit of the doubt on this one. Their history demonstrates that they actually DO care about what they are doing, and how people feel about them.

    Just my 2¢

  45. dveight says:

    @GrandizerGo: This comment is so far off base about buying stolen goods that I am not even going to try to argue with you about this.

  46. tptcat says:

    I like Netflix, but a recent experience has made me question the level of their customer service.

    I recently rented Mr. Woodcock and found it to be very scratched to the point where it wouldn’t play all the way through. I marked it as such in my account and returned it. Before putting it in the envelope though, I had drawn two tiny, red marks on the face of the DVD in permanent marker – barely visible unless you were looking for them. Wouldn’t you know it, when Mr. Woodcock was sent back to me, it was the same exact copy.

    Thanks, Netflix.

  47. Serpephone says:

    I stopped using Netflix because time and time again I would receive discs that would be too dirty or scratched to play in my DVD player.

  48. PeanutButter says:

    @Bix: that way, someone can’t say they made any specific promises, which in turn, covers their asses.

  49. s2eb779 says:

    I can understand bitching about credit cards, your bank, etc. Come on, the majority of the DVDs I get from Netflix say “for rental only,” mainly because I get a lot of TV shows.

    If the damn thing plays, then shut the hell up. At least you’re not having to go to Blockbuster.

  50. s2eb779 says:


    Have you actually tried contacting their customer service?

  51. WhirlyBird says:

    @jdsmn: “You will never be convicted of a crime if you unknowingly purchased something stolen.”

    Dude, have you been in America very long? We send people to Death Row when they didn’t do anything. Don’t think you can’t get convicted for possession of stolen property by claiming some sort of “innocence”.