My question involves selling dvd’s on the internet. A friend of mine has been importing dvd’s from China and selling them on Amazon. I am concerned that they are bootlegs and he’s going to get himself in trouble.
My friend believes they are legal, import versions and says that firstly, customs opens and inspects the packages, which as imports, don’t even look like the American issued products, so if they were illegal, they would be easy to spot and surely customs would confiscate the products and not send them on to him.
Secondly, he says that he and others sell them openly on Amazon, stating in his ad that they are region free imports, and Amazon would not allow him to sell them if they were illegal.
I have no explanation for why customs would allow these packages through, but I did find an article on the internet saying that Amazon and Ebay are immune from prosecution on this issue. I have explained to him that Amazon may be okay with making money off his sales and then hanging him out to dry when the FBI comes knocking on his door.
I also found an article on the US Customs website that said the importer should verify whether the exporter has violated copyright
laws, but it was not clear if the importer would be criminally liable.
I also looked for articles about arrests, and it seems that people only get arrested for bootlegging if they do the actual copying. Or is it that the internet cases of re-sellers just don’t make the news?
He has not yet been able to verify through his overseas supplier if the manufacturer has violated copyright law. Is it possible that these dvd’s are legal versions issued overseas, not “intended” for sale in the US, but not “illegal” either?
Leaving aside the moral question of whether he “should” sell these dvd’s, and (hypothetically) if these dvd’s are bootlegs, the question is: since customs is allowing the product through, and since Amazon is allowing him to sell the products, is he violating law by re-selling them and is he in danger of prosecution? If he is violating law, is it serious, or is it more like a traffic ticket?
Thanks so much for your help.