Beware of Pirates! How to Avoid Bootleg Blu-rays and DVDs, Part 3

Pirates and Their Victims Speak

  • Behind the vast statistics of stolen films, real peoples’ livelihoods are being ruined
  • Ultimately supporters of piracy pay twice for the price of condoning theft
  • Pirates prefer to hide in the shadows; now they’re being dragged into the light to answer for their crimes

This article is part of a series; if you’ve landed directly on this page I strongly recommend you start from Part 1.

Beware of Pirates sign 3


Contents


Witnesses for the prosecution: victim testimonies

Film Preservation associates’ David Shepard, also Blackhawk Films library owner, has spent over four decades restoring many of the most significant silent and early sound films in existence. Following the initial publication of this article, he and I exchanged several emails. Much of his work has been subjected to pirating and I asked him which companies were the worst offenders. Here are some replies, edited for legal reasons:

“Thanks; I just read your article and agree with everything in it.  I’m happy someone cares.

In Italy, it’s [label redacted], and they sell in the USA through Amazon!  In France, [redacted] is a principal offender. In the USA, [redacted] and [redacted] are major offenders.  Lots of stuff out of Korea and China – look at eBay.

What all these people surmise, and they are correct, is that the commercial market for the kinds of films I prepare is so marginal that the income cannot possibly justify the cost of a lawsuit, so they can infringe with impunity.  Further, I am, as the French say, of a certain age, and do not choose to spend my remaining time in disputes, which would not be fun.  So I don’t keep track or worry about it.

My partners at Lobster Films did get an Italian lawyer and they have sued [redacted].  I don’t know whether it has been resolved, only that I keep having to come up with more and more documentation to prove that they have stolen our work.  Ugh.”

He subsequently wrote:

“I checked with Lobster on the lawsuit against [redacted]. It is still going on.  However, they have now apparently eviscerated their company, changed its name, and started over, so when we win it will be like shaving an egg.” – August 2015

Nick Redman, Twilight Time label owner, confirmed via email that Spanish Resen’s Mysterious Island (1961) Blu-ray was an unauthorised copy of his company’s release. He also said:

“…every Resen release of a TT title is an unequivocal bootleg – piracy is absolutely pandemic and the studios are really powerless to police it or stop it. The fault lies also with collectors who support the bootlegs and the companies that produce them, and in so doing contribute to the downfall of the hobby they profess to love.” – September 2015

George Feltenstein, Warner Bros.’ Senior Vice President of Theatrical Catalog Marketing, and a noted film historian and producer, also agrees with my findings.  He referenced this article in an email to film critic Glenn Erickson, who republished it on his DVD Savant site:

“You should warn the person who wrote you that the ‘Gun Crazy’ Blu from Spain is most definitely pirated. You may want to point out this Brenton Film article to the person who wrote to you as well as share it with Savant readers as it is a big problem: Beware of Pirates! How to Avoid Bootleg Blu-rays and DVDs.” – September 2015

Bob Furmanek, 3-D Film Archive founder, historian and producer, has seen his hard work ripped-off:

“From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, I sought out 35mm elements on four features: Abbott and Costello’s Africa Screams (1949) and Jack and the Beanstalk (1952), plus Bela Lugosi’s The Devil Bat (1940) and Scared to Death (1947). All four had previously only been seen in multi-generation, low quality 16mm dupes which looked terrible on home video. The two Cinecolor films in particular, Scared and Jack, looked very bad with their original vibrant (and unique) palette totally washed out.

I searched globally and devoted a great deal of energy and resources to find them. I did the work on my own time and paid out of pocket to master all four titles from original 35mm elements. Soon after they were released on laser disc, the public domain distributors began selling copies of my restorations without giving me proper credit or payment.

I didn’t do the work for either credit or profit, I did it to present the films in the best possible versions. Nevertheless, it’s very frustrating when someone steals your work (and in at least one case, took credit for it as their own restoration[2] – that really stung) and makes money off it to boot. Needless to say, it was all very disappointing and discouraged me from ever again spending my own time and monies to restore a public domain film.” – June 2017

Bob’s authorised, licensed transfers were originally released on LaserDisc:

More recently came the following:

There are now dozens of DVDs and Blu-rays of all four titles available worldwide, including a 2001 Roan Group DVD of the Abbott and Costello films and 2015 Film Detective [2] “Restored Classics” DVDs of all four. They’re all lifted directly from Bob’s efforts, with most being shoddy copies (of copies) of the LaserDiscs.

Renowned film restorer Torsten Kaiser, of TLEFilms, weighed in on a heated Blu-ray.com forum thread (posts 196, 221, 230). He confirmed that Italy’s Studio 4K had ripped off his own restoration of M (1931) from the Eureka/Masters of Cinema Blu-ray:

“The Italian (bootleg) BD, however, was made based on a rip of the (earlier issued) Eureka/MoC Blu-ray disc released in the U.K. early 2010, with the credits of the 2001 photochemical restoration cut off.” – April 2014

M (1931) Eureka-Masters of Cinema UK Blu-ray front

M (1931) Eureka/Masters of Cinema UK Blu-ray – the real deal

M (1931) Eureka-Masters of Cinema UK Blu-ray rear

M (1931) Eureka-Masters of Cinema UK Blu-ray rear. Region coding: check. Lossless, high quality audio: check. Numerous extra features: check. Etc.

M (1931) Films sans Frontières French pirate Blu-ray front

M (1931) Films sans Frontières French pirate Blu-ray – as fake as they come

M (1931) Films sans Frontières French pirate Blu-ray rear

M (1931) Films sans Frontières French pirate Blu-ray rear. As well as a lack of lossless audio and extra features, note the absence of region coding and proper studio, copyright or restoration credits.


Witnesses for the defence: pirates on the attack!

Since this article was first published, I’ve been contacted and threatened by some of the companies listed above. Here is the first such exchange, reproduced verbatim:

From:info@films-sans-frontieres.frSent: 22 September 2015 16:30 To: Brenton Film Cc: Laurent Maupas <video@films-sans-frontieres.fr> Subject: Your pirate List

Sir,

I understand that our company is on a list of so called pirates .Before we take action against you for diffamation and prejudice.we would ask you to remove our name, from your web site.

regards

The management of FSF

FILMS SANS FRONTIERES, 70 BOULEVARD DE SEBASTOPOL, PARIS 75003, +33142772184, +33142774266 FAX, +33609492509 CELL, www.films-sans-frontieres.fr

Ce message électronique et toutes les pièces jointes sont confidentiels ou protégées légalement et destinés à l’utilisateur habituel de l’adresse e-mail à laquelle ils ont été adressés. Personne d’autre n’est autorisé à lire ce message, le dupliquer, le modifier ou le communiquer à un tiers quelconque.( Sans autorisation de l’émetteur )

This message and any attachments are confidential or legally protected and intended solely for the addressees. No one else than the addresses may copy or forward all of any of it in any form.( without being authorized by the sender )


Le 24 sept. 2015 à 09:36, Brenton Film a écrit :

Dear “The management of FSF”,

I was acting in good faith when adding you to that list, based on a copyright owner informing me that several of their transfers had been copied by you and are being sold without permission or due fees being paid. Before I remove your name, perhaps you can explain why I can’t find any copyright credits or similar information on any of your releases, other than to yourselves? If your transfers are officially licensed why don’t you credit their source? For example, your DVD and Blu-ray of M claim to be restored, so whose restoration are you using? Likewise, your L’Intégrale Eisenstein contains films whose restored versions belong to several different copyright holders; how come your company is absolutely unique in being able to combine them all in one box?

I could go on: why can’t I find a single one of your releases with region coding, so often a prerequisite to licensing particular films? Why do they all appear to be single-layer discs, with no extra features whatsoever? And so on. I look forward to receiving proof from you that you are trading 100% legitimately, when so many others are not, and will then be happy to remove your name immediately.

Regards

Brent Reid


From:info@films-sans-frontieres.frSent: 24 September 2015 08:46 To: Brenton Film Subject: Re: Your pirate List

Thanks for your reply, can you send us  your  postal address will reply to you officially by post on our letterhead

regards

The Management


Le 24 sept. 2015 à 10:25, Brenton Film <info@brentonfilm.com> a écrit :

No. Email is fine.


From:info@films-sans-frontieres.frSent: 24 September 2015 09:30 To: Brenton Film Subject: Re: Your pirate List

scared !!!!!

we’ll found out meanwhile we give you 48 hours to remove  your article, if not our lawyer in London will send you a letter.

regards


Le 24 sept. 15 à 11:46, Brenton Film a écrit :

Scared? Hardly. Care to give me your personal address? No, I thought not.

You haven’t answered any of my simple questions and are instead resorting to pathetic intimidation. If you persist in this course of action I will go out of my way to publicise your methods, including publishing all your emails online.


From:info@films-sans-frontieres.frSent: 24 September 2015 10:51 To: Brenton Film Subject: Re: Your pirate List

Ok will proceed, you’ll receive a letter from our lawyer in Nottingham…..

cheers


Le 24 sept. 24 à 12:08, Brenton Film a écrit :

 :o)


Le 12 oct. 15 à 18:17, Brenton Film a écrit :

Hello!

I’m still waiting to hear from your lawyers in London – or was it Nottingham? You seemed somewhat confused.

You’re now a featured contributor to my updated pirate article; perhaps you have some more comments for me to include?

Regards

Brent Reid


From:info@films-sans-frontieres.frSent: 12 October 2015 17:27 To: Brenton Film Subject: Re: Your pirate List

Brenton law will send you a notice

cheers


Le 12 oct. 15 à 18:54, Brenton Film a écrit :

Excellent: I look forward to it. Don’t disappoint me – I’d hate for my readers to think you’re only making empty threats!  ;o)


Needless to say, that was the last I heard. Films sans Frontières is owned by self styled ‘musician’ Galeshka Moravioff, almost certainly the author of the emails. Originally from Switzerland, his real surname is Dupont (If you know his real first name, get in touch!). He has a long history of releasing pirated product and threatening people with groundless or non-existent lawsuits. According to his site’s Filmographie page he has replaced the scores of many of his pirated silent films with his own ersatz scores. Indeed, as of the time of writing (October 2015) he is preparing to release an uncredited rip-off of either of the recent restored BFI or Flicker Alley Blu-rays of Man with a Movie Camera (1929), again containing his own replacement score. His choice of a clearly pubescent and possibly blindfolded, naked girl to adorn one of his albums is additionally questionable but I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. If you’d like to know exactly who his partners in crime are, there’s a rogues’ gallery at the bottom of this page.

Galeshka Moravioff, owner of pirate DVD label Films sans Frontières

Galeshka Moravioff, surprise star of this article and unscrupulous owner of Films sans Frontières

Parasites like Moravioff/Dupont and Baechler are greedy, selfish scum, sucking an already ailing industry dry. I’m under no illusions they and their ilk will ever halt their onslaught, as there’s just too much easy money – other peoples’ – in it for them. But at least by naming, shaming and sharing we can all play our part in getting the truth out there. Feel free to contact me if you’ve fallen foul of these freeloaders or know of any other copyright-infringing labels or companies.

Beware of Pirates! How to Avoid Bootleg Blu-rays and DVDs, Part 4


I started Brenton Film because I love film – quelle surprise! The silent era, 1930s and 1940s especially get my literary juices flowing though. So you’ll see a lot about those. For more, see the About page.

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

You can be first to comment on this post.

Leave a Reply

You might also like