I bought a Star Trek Voyager Season1-7 set off Amazon a few weeks back after wrapping up all my episodes of Enterprise. I’ve been chomping at the bit for some sci-fi and it took me awhile to decide whether I was going to take the plunge on Voyager or go for Babylon5 instead.
I thought I’d save some money off the exhorbantly priced DVD set by ordering one of the less expensive copies from an Amazon Marketplace seller. It was $80 cheaper than the ‘full price’ set, so it was a good deal. But not ‘too good’ of a deal that I had to worry about it. Guess I was wrong.
So here are some pictures of what showed up. There are 6 more sets pretty much exactly like this, shrink wrapped and packed loose into a shipping box. The packaging is fairly convincing, until you start looking closely.
The other two DVD sets that I had purchased through Amazon (DS9 and Enterprise) both came with the season boxes wrapped together, with a cardboard base. The fact that the individual seasons were physically seperated was a surprise. The boxes looked pretty legitimate, but when I opened the first season at work, what I found was a dvd set that was packaged like a piece of $20 software. I know Paramount hasn’t won any fans with their packaging, but this was good step down from what I was used to so far. Inside the brown cardboard was a plastic cd ‘folio’ like what MSDN disks used to come in. Inside that were the disks, and they were out of order. The left side of the thin plastic ‘disc book’ was all crumpled up from being held in a space where it couldn’t lie flat. The inset inside the cardboard holder was only wide enough for the disks.
There was no booklet or episode list, which was what really got my suspicion going.
After installing some video codecs and media player classic on my work computer, I loaded up the first disc and the intro screen looked correct compared to stills of voyager. Disc 5 seemed to have special features on it, so that all checked out. I mentioned my suspicion to my coworker Armrha, and he noticed that the interior ring of the DVDs indicated that they were pressed just for Star Trek Voyager and were not just burned by a computer.
So then I started checking the ISBN number on the back, and doing some reading.
Here’s what the DVD packaging looks like on Memory Alpha: http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/VOY_Season_1_DVD
Region 1 is ‘US’, Region 2 is Europe, UK and the Middle East. You’ll notice the texture on the case is all wrong, and the front is missing those weird circle things that look like reflective plastic. That’s because the Voyager DVD Season1 case is supposted to be a plastic slip cover with a orange jewel case inside it, not a glossy paper box.
Here’s a bunch of pictures what it’s supposted to look like: http://voy.trekcore.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=239
If your voyager DVDs don’t look like this, you are either a european, or they’re a bootleg.
Why does my disk 5 say ‘A-0026’ on the bottom? It’s also missing the episode listing on each disk in a horrible swirling pattern that is completely unreadable.
Here’s what else I’ve learned. There are no Paramount licensed “import editions” of Star Trek Voyager. DVDs are supposedly not issued ISBN numbers if they are an entertainment product, however the DVD card for the trekcore gallery above shows some for each season.
The back of the season1 package I recieved says ISBN 0-1832-1623-1 The sham season2 is labelled 0-1832-1623-2, and so on, with the number incrementing by one with each season. You’ll notice in the pictures above the second number in a 12 digit UPC code format. It’s almost the same as the ISBN, but they added an extra 1 in the middle: 0-18321-16231-4
The proper version of Star Trek Voyager, Season1 is ISBN 0-7921-7747-9, UPC (actually it’s a UCC-12) 0-9736-15683-48. If you do some UPC code searching you’ll notice that the first set of UPC numbers on a lot of Paramount products start with 0-973. This is because they are typically issued in blocks to a publisher. Compare the search results for the valid product code with the fake upc code. You’ll notice that the real code comes up in a lot of product results and the fake one comes up only on a few reskins of a single ‘barcodepedia’ website.
In summary, it really looks like bootlegging is pretty rampant out there if you just scratch the surface. All of the customer upload pictures in the Amazon.com gallery for the complete seasons 1-7 voyager are bootlegs. Anything from the chosen collection are also blatent bootlegs. Apparently Amazon also allows Amazon Marketplace sellers to create their own product pages for new products, and these are supposedly rife with bootlegs. I notice my seller is now selling a handful of used books and a ‘used’ copy of the ‘import’ version of Star Trek Voyager, which of course, has a bunch of pictures of bootleg editions. I wonder if this is a willfull fraud that has been perpetrated or if it’s someone who purchased a product from an untrustworthy distributor, not knowing that they are selling bootlegs. According to Amazon policy, I need to give them 3 days to respond to my return request before I get Amazon involved. From what I read, they will not be kind to the seller when that happens.
SHAMEFULL BOOTLEGS OF SHAME
Looks pretty legit packaging right? Here’s what one person had to say about it in the amazon forum linked above.
There is no such thing as AUTHORIZED import. All BS crap spewed by the sellers. Paramount has NEVER granted anybody rights in China, Taiwan, HK or ANY countries outside North America to re-produce StarTrek series in different regions, let alone Region 0. All StarTrek imports are NOT the official packaging considered to be BOOTLEGs at this time. All ‘The Chosen Collection 1,2,3,4,5’ are all confirmed BOOTLEGS – in low quality DVD5 (4.3) GB only with bad subtitles, no commentary, no extras. Some has blur video, and skips! Buyers beware.
Good thing they added those glossy stickers to the covers below, it really adds a sense of legitimacy. Except, for the box not being made out of glossy plastic and everything..
YOU CAN’T FOOL SENATOR VREENAK!
The sad thing is, I don’t really remember this show being all that great, but I really need a star trek fix right now. But damn if I’m going to pay money for a pirated copy. No hollywood studio making the money, no interest in science fiction, no new sci-fi being made.