Are VCDs bootlegs?

I won’t post a link, but an auction site I saw has VCDs of Star Wars Episode 2.

Is this legal?

Since I don’t know what the site is, I’ll propose two alternatives:

  1. Yes, they’re bootlegs. Because the movie hasn’t been released yet, let alone a home video version, that’s the only way such a VCD could be created. Lucasfilm hasn’t sanctioned any release yet.

  2. The site is taking preorders for grey-market VCDs. They’re reselling VCDs from Malaysia or someplace. Such VCDs are not supposed to be sold outside their country of origin, but they frequently slip through anyway. Such VCDs are official and sanctioned, but only when released for sale in a particular country, and only within that country.

Considering that the movie hasn’t been released to theatres yet, it’s most certainly a bootleg. I know that some crappy rips of the movie are already available on the net, but nothing official (except for perhaps some tie-in merchandise and special review and charity theatre screenings) will be released prior to May 16th.

Max Torque, I don’t want to link to eBay directly and tell you to do a search for them, as it would be against the rules.

Doesn’t eBay usually nip those things in the bud?

Is this true? I must have the largest collection of Sarah Brightman VCD’s outside of Taiwan. You can buy them in regular CD stores. Got one for her “Classics” CD last Sunday.

Guess that makes me a master criminal. DAMN!

Got me, Annie. If they’re being sold over the counter, you’re probably okay. There are VCDs made for sale in the US, just not very many.

A couple of years back, before The Phantom Menace was available on DVD (before they’d even announced it for DVD), there was no indication that there would ever be a DVD release. I was sick and tired of buying VHS tapes only to eventually replace them with DVDs, and I wasn’t about to pay $35 for a widescreen version of TPM on VHS (which was the only way they sold it, as I recall). So, I found an online dealer and bought the Malaysian VCD. My reasoning: I’d rather let some grey-marketeer have my money than Lucas, if he wasn’t going to release the movie on DVD. Of course, as soon as the DVD came out, I snapped up a copy.

Just look over the VCD labels for markings that indicate the country of origin. If they’re from overseas, there will be stickers or printing indicating where they’re from. My TPM VCDs had very large stickers indicating that they’d come from Malaysia and were “not to be sold outside Malaysia”.

These are definitely from Taiwan. I understand Sarah Brightman is really popular over there, and they repackage her CDS with a VCD, lyrics in English and a Taiwanese translation, and obi-strip. One of them also had a nice little Sarah Brightman 2000 Calendar.

Great packaging, and maybe they get away with it cause it is labelled a “bonus VCD.”

Ebay does shut the auctions down if they don’t fit the rules, but there are like 100,000 new auctions per day, so they are usually
behind a little bit.

I am guessing that the ones they sell in Virgin and Tower records for 90 dirhams are probably real.

I am guessing the Lord of the Rings one I bought for 10 dirhams from a shifty-looking bloke with his wares spread out on a cloth in a pavement in Karama, which had less resolution and focus than a 1980 camcorder with the lens removed, clearly showed the surround of the cinema screen from which it was filmed from, and had sound so distorted Mr Dolby probably spun in his grave, was probably not particularly legal in the most exact sense of the world.

If the question is “are ALL VCDs bootlegs,” the answer is no. Of course the AoTC VCDs are bootlegs.

Out of curiosity, what the hell is a VCD?

Great rationalization. Here’s an idea; if you like Mr. Lucas’ product enough to want it, then buy from him, not from a thief. If he doesn’t choose to release it in a form you want, tough; that doesn’t justify theft.

The Malaysian VCDs weren’t pirated, they’re “grey market”. Lucas got money from the initial sale of it overseas, it just wasn’t supposed to be resold in the US. I was NOT going to support the film on VHS. Buying a VHS copy would only encourage his “I don’t need to release Star Wars on DVD” attitude. Have you forgotten how much nagging and petition-writing it took to get Lucasfilm to make a TPM DVD in the first place?

And I bought the DVD the very day it became available, so nyah.

I, too, didn’t know what a VCD was. I Googled it, and the impression I got is that it is a Quicktime movie on a CD, that you can play on your computer? Is this right?

Many if not most DVD players can play VCDs (video compact discs), as well as “Super VCDs” (SVCD). I presume this is why the AOTC bootleg has made the news. If you live in a large city you’ve probably seen on street corners people selling bootlegged VHS tapes of movies still in theaters, which can be stopped by simply arresting the sellers.

But now anyone with a broadband connection, a CD burner and a VCD-compliant DVD player can watch the biggest movie of the year a week before it’s even released, and it’s not nearly as simple to shut the bootleggers down.

It’s undoubtedly illegal, but Max Torque brings up an interesting point. If someone will (a) see AOTC in theaters, possibly multiple times, and (b) buy the DVD as soon as it’s released, is it morally wrong to download a bootleg of the film? “Yes I’m watching this movie for free now, but I’ll be giving you guys money very soon.” At least it’s far less unethical than giving money to pirates who actually profit from illegal copies.

Pretty much. The V just stands for “video”, it’s a video CD. The file format is not Quicktime, but MPEG. The quality of a VCD is about the same as a VHS videotape. And you can play them on your computer or in many DVD players, although I should point out that there are quite a few DVD players out there that have trouble reading burned CDs of any form, including burned VCDs.

You can experiment by making your own VCDs, if you have a CD-R or RW drive and a burning program that supports the format, like Toast on Macintosh or Easy CD Creator on Windows. It’s no harder than burning a music CD, really, although not all video files are suitable for/capable of burning to a VCD.