Ebay is a great place to find old, rare or hard to find footage of sporting events.
Most dvds and videos of sporting footage on ebay are perfectly legal, however... sadly not all of them are. As well as being illegal, they are often of such poor quality that they are virtually unwatchable, and you will have wasted your money.
This guide will help you to know where you stand and prevent YOU from getting burnt. (I got burnt... I don't want to see it happen to anyone else. There are plenty of examples of illegal footage out there.)
What is illegal footage?
Illegal footage is not only when an existing genuine or licensed product is copied in whole, as is the case with pirated movies for example.
It also includes any instance where ANY portion of material is used in another production without the license or authorisation of the holder of the copyright. This is particularly important to understand: Television broadcasters, even radio stations all hold intellectual property rights (copyright) in EVERY broadcast. Buying or selling a homemade 'compilation disc' with ANY unlicensed footage will also breach copyright, even if it was never publicly available for sale. (Don't let them kid you. It doesn't make any difference.)
To know more see the Copyright Act 1968, particularly ss. 87 and 103 (1) (a) (Australian Commonwealth Acts).
How do I recognise illegal footage on ebay?
There is no hard and fast rule. As with all things, keep aware that the problem exists, and if something looks dodgy, it probably is.
-A classic pointer is when sellers, instead of photographing the item, put up a 'still' from the footage- this indicates there may not be a legitimate copy to start with (These seem particularly rife coming from European ebay, although I have seen them here too).
-If in doubt, email or message the seller and ASK. Keep a copy of the email so that if you buy it and it's not genuine, you can PROVE you had no knowledge and were misled. You can report this both to ebay and to Australian authorities on pirating/counterfeiting footage.
-A legitimate copy will always acknowledge its sources (Few illegal ones do.)
What could happen to me if I get one of these illegal products?
If you knowingly buy an illegal disc/video you are in breach of the Copyright Act 1968 too. But on the smaller scale:
- You probably won't get what you think you've bought- broadcasts taped from television 10+ years ago are going to look VERY poor quality today. They will be grainy, blurry, colours will be poor... Home-made 'cut and pasting' can be very poor quality too (I got one where they had pasted in bits of a German Formula One broadcast where the main version they had pirated had commercials- complete with German commentary cutting in and out.). Quality is lost in each subsequent copy of the original made, therefore if they copied the broadcast on video, then transferred it to a digital format for editing, and then burnt that again, you've lost a LOT of quality, and there probably wasn't much there to start with.
-You'll probably lose your money unless you want to put in copious amounts of time and possibly money to apprehend the pirate.
-You'll probably receive negative feedback in retaliation from the seller. That happened to me, and boy does it hurt if you previously had 100% and did nothing wrong. Or they'll say they will take it down IF you file for removal by mutual agreement- that is nothing more than low down bullying or even blackmail. They won't necessarily be rude- sometimes they are excessively polite, but the 'sting' is the same.
-The pirate rubs his hands with glee at yet another victim, and probably sells another copy next week or even under another username.
What do I do if it happens to me?
Don't keep the tape/disc. Don't watch the tape/disc (other than to verify authenticity or lack thereof). DON'T sell off the tape/disc.
Ask the seller for a refund. (Paypal requires you do this first if you are going to file a claim)
Report the item to ebay. The seller may have other copies or other similar tapes/discs for sale.
If you have used paypal, file a claim against the seller. *Caution!!!! If it is under a certain value (US$25) Paypal will ask you to pay for return postage*
Report the seller to the police- pirating footage is ILLEGAL and they will also know where you can complain to government authorities.
I hope this has been helpful.
Please help to stamp out piracy by reporting any illegal items you see to ebay.