Fooled by a Lost pirate

I'm the new owner of a pirated copy of Lost, Season 5.

Not intentionally. When I bid for it on eBay, I believed that it was the real deal. Only when it arrived did I realize that I'd been duped. Fortunately, the seller seems willing to return all of my money, and eBay offers a money-back guarantee when deals go bad.

The experience has been instructive, though. It gave me the chance to compare an authentic product to a fake.

While pirated versions of real movies and TV are sometimes very slick, this one looks like it was done by a guy working night shift at the copy shop, using the cheapest materials and copiers short on toner. The production looks nothing like the original. The printing is sloppy and broken, the packaging primitive. Subtitles in a number of Southeastern Asia languages is another clue. The eBay ad claimed it was the Region 1 (U.S., Canada) version. Not.

Having bought the first four seasons, I've come to appreciate ABC's packaging. Here's the authentic season 4 packaging.

So when I opened the box and found this mess, I knew I'd been had.

What should you look for to avoid being stung as I was?

The Motion Picture Arts Association recommends looking out for:
  • A deal too good to be true; it's not true
  • A show or movie that hasn't hit the stores and Netflix yet; it's a bootleg
  • Packaging that is hinky
  • Bad printing
  • Wrong contents
  • Cheap substitutes
  • All-region, or No region listed? It's likely a fake
  • On-the-fly salespeople that hand it over with a wink and a nod
Some of my writer friends would disagree, but I feel that we don't have enough good entertainment now, and taking away the money that companies have rightly earned isn't going to bring us more and better viewing options. I'm cheap enough to buy on sale or second-hand, but not to buy a stolen product like this one.

While I wait for my refund, I'm downloading the season from iTunes instead. Perhaps I'm paying a little more, but instant gratification and the assurance that the product is genuine is worth it, to me.
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