The Official Website of Gene Autry, America's Favorite Singing Cowboy

News Archive: 2008

New Information on DVD Pirates
Posted April 8, 2008

Gene Autry Entertainment recently learned that some of the DVD pirates behind the bootleg release of The Gene Autry Show have been arrested by none other than the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We think it is quite ironic that America's Favorite Signing Cowboy made a movie in 1951 titled Gene Autry and the Mounties and today the RCMP is riding to his rescue!

The following is an article excerpted from The Winnipeg Free Press.

These DVD Pirates Are Missing the Boat Instruct Peeved Consumers to Send Returns to Free Press

By Kevin Rollason
Updated January 7, 2008

If you want to keep it secret that you're selling pirated DVDs, it's probably not a good idea to use a major Canadian newspaper as your return address.

Over the last few days, several packages of pirated DVDs have been shipped to the Winnipeg Free Press from disgruntled customers around the world.

The packages originated from entities called DVD Avenue.TV, DVD Store, and Expediteur, but they all contained the return address for the Free Press in Winnipeg.

The videos include Ally McBeal, The Carol Burnett Show, Little House on the Prairie and The Six Million Dollar Man.

Included in the packaging is a card that tells people in bold-face letters not to send the items back to the address on the package before calling for an authorization number.

But apparently, people haven't been getting a response from that number, so they've just popped the packages back in the mail and a few days later, they've showed up at the Free Press.

One of those people was Margaret Cooper of Tampa, Fla., who spent a total of $228.32 for the complete series of Upstairs, Downstairs.

"This was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but I looked at them and they were so poor," Cooper said on Friday.

"They were even plain white on the discs inside. Geez, I thought, it can't be legitimate."

Cooper has since told her credit card company she has returned the DVDs and expects to get the charge reversed.

"They were so amateurish it looked like a 10-year-old did it. I now tell my family to be careful when you order online."

The actual video quality of the television shows varies widely.

Some, like an episode of Beverly Hills 90210, are picture perfect -- although it includes in the lower right corner the SoapNet channel insignia from which the show was dubbed.

Others, like an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, look like they've been recorded onto a videotape using the slow speed and then dubbed onto DVD.

But the shoddiest example is the packaging of the Newhart show.

In Newhart, Bob Newhart played the owner of an inn in Vermont, and that's what the writeup on the package says. But the packaging on the pirated DVD features photographs of him from his earlier TV show, playing a psychologist.

The website is registered to a man living in Miami, Fla., but repeated attempts to telephone the man, as well as an 800 number listed on the website, received no reply.

Local television producer Kim Todd, who produced Falcon Beach, which recently was released on DVD, said the pirated TV shows don't surprise her.

"The Internet is like the Wild West, and law and order always follows after," Todd said.

"There's no doubt this is stealing. But the solution isn't putting everybody in jail, it's finding another way to meet the market."

Gary Osmond, the Canadian Motion Picture Distribution Association's director of investigations -- anti-piracy operations, said the DVDs received by the Free Press are connected to the massive seizure of thousands of counterfeit DVDs by the RCMP in Montreal just before Christmas.

More than 200 DVD burners were also seized by police and eight people were arrested who are facing fraud charges under the Criminal Code and Copyright Act.

But Osmond was surprised to hear the DVD pirates had used the Free Press' address.

"They're not too smart," Osmond said.

"In Montreal, they used post office box numbers for Canada Post or private companies. There was one legitimate address in Montreal, but it was a hole in the ground with a building being constructed.

"Yours is the only legitimate address and the first in Winnipeg."

Osmond says what makes purchasers especially angry is the DVDs in many cases are not cheap and rival the prices of legitimate versions.

"The problem is, with the Internet you can burn these in your basement and you have access to customers around the world."

To verify the legitimacy of Internet websites selling DVDs before making an order, contact the CMPDA at 1-800-363-9166. Anyone who believes they have purchased a pirated DVD is asked to call the RCMP at (514) 939-8307.

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