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Bring DVD Bootleggers to Justice

What do you do if you find you have unwittingly purchased a bootleg DVD? Contacting a internet lawyer may be an option for internet fraud involving large ticket items. For smaller items, like DVDs, however, there are several things you can do on your own.

First, contact the seller. Explain that you believe they sent you a bootleg DVD and ask them for an explanation. It may help to identify exactly what about the DVD leads you to believe it is a bootleg. Request that if they can not explain the apparent bootlegginess of the DVD, that they should immediately send you a refund for the price you paid AND the shipping.

State that if you do not hear back from them in three days, you will assume it is a bootleg and proceed with protecting your rights in that regard. It is important that you NOT threaten criminal action in an attempt to gain an advantage in a civil action. This is illegal. Simply ask them why the DVD appears to be a bootleg and request a complete refund.

If the seller provides an inadequate response, refuses to answer and refuses to provide you with a complete refund, you may investigate taking one or more of the following actions to prevent the seller from defrauding anyone else:

1. File a complaint with the auction site through which you purchased the DVD. If you used eBay, begin the process here. Note that the eBay dispute resolution process has a lot of requirements relating to time for response and required actions. Read the associated eBay policies thoroughly before opening a dispute to avoid any problems. If the dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction, leave feedback stating what you KNOW. Avoid any unverified claims in your feedback that could expose you to a lawsuit for defamation.

2. File a complaint through the payment system you used. If you used PayPal, you may have to complain to PayPal FIRST, before filing a complaint with your credit card company to avoid having your PayPal account compromised. Check out the PayPal Dispute Resolution Tutorial for more information. Be aware of deadline dates for both PayPal and your credit card company. If you go past either of these dates, you may be out of luck.

3. File a mail fraud report through the United States Postal Service.

4. File a fraud report with the National Fraud Information Center.

5. Report the Bootlegger to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

6. Since bootlegging is copyright infringment, report the bootlegger to the Motion Picture Association of America.

7. Finally, let me know. I am keeping statistics on DVD fraud and would like know how you resolved your situation.

Brett Trout

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