If you’re like me, you thought that pirated DVDs would be easy to spot. Not so. With cheap printing, duplicating technologies, and DVD authoring technologies, pirated DVDs might look virtually identical to their legitimate counterparts. With that in mind, here are somethings to look for:

1) Where’d it come from?
If you bought a DVD from a flea market, on a street corner, or while in another country, it might be suspect.

2) How much did you pay?
New DVDs from reputable retailers cost more like $9.99-79.99 (for television series). If the price is too good to be true, it might just be. Used DVDs will be MUCH cheaper than new, so this is inconclusive, but if a DVD is supposed to be new and costs well below what it should…

3) When did you buy it?
Much to my chagrin, Hollywood doesn’t release movies on DVD until some time after they’ve left the theatre. What that means to our discussion is that if you can’t find it at the video store and you have it in your hand, it might be pirated.

4) Look at the DVD logo and other details.
The DVD logo is very specific. It’s also a small detail that might be missed as a part of the large work of creating a pirated DVD. Look for other details as well that might give it away. Are the discs burned in a computer or pressed. Pressed DVDs are silver; burned ones usually aren’t.

5) Look at the bugs.
We’ve all seen “bugs”, not the creepy crawly kind. “Bug” are the little logos that show up in the corner of the screen on broadcast tv. If you’re watching a movie and it has a “CBS” logo in the corner, you’re likely viewing a pirated flick. Television shows are even more likely to exhibit this behavior.

6) Menu please.
Menus in Hollywood DVDs take a lot of work to produce. Most include moving video that loops well. If the menu is static, includes information you wouldn’t expect, or seems to glitch when the video background loops, it might just be pirated.

One caution.
Older and low-budget movies might exhibit one or more of the above. These are just guidelines. The more of these you see on new, mainstream movie and tv show DVDs, the more likely they are to be pirated. If it bothers you, buy only from legitimate sources like “big box” retailers and major on-line outlets.