Barcodes reuse is normal in some cases. e.g. Magazines may reuse codes from year to year, toy companies may sell 20 different
colors under the same UPC code, etc. But in some cases, companies have reused barcodes for different products. When we find these
they are displayed with a selector, so you can choose the correct code.
Bootleg movies and other digital content sometime use incorrect barcodes. Two examples of bootleg Netflix DVDs are shown below. These images were captured from online sites selling DVDs:
If you look at the bars in these codes, you can see that they are identical. But the human readable numbers are different. If you scan the barcodes with
a barcode reader, or a mobile shopping app, you will see that the code scanned is UPC 031398262985. This doesn't match either of the printed numbers.
The readers ignore the human readable number below the bars. Without a barcode scanner, most people would not notice that the codes are fake/wrong/mismatched.
While this could be simple misprint where the wrong barcode was used, it is unlikely on authentic DVDs. Also note that both of the codes 031398263299 and 031398263619 are
invalid UPC codes. They both have bad check digits. While it is possible that all these errors were made by a legitimate distributor of DVDs, these are most likely bootleg
DVDs copied by someone that doesn't understand how barcodes and scanners work.
Another approach used by bootleggers is to just use a valid UPC code from some other movie, again misunderstanding the purpose of the barcodes. This barcode below
883929650859 is legitimately used for a Scooby Doo Movie DVD.
In this case it was used on the packaging for a fake copy of DVDs of Disney's Mandalorian series being sold online. Note that "Disney" is also misspelled on the DVD as
"Diney". Some of the sellers even went into detail in their eBay listings about how they streamed the content to make the DVDs.
How to check for Bootleg DVDs
You can enter the code into this site to validate the UPC code and see if it matches the product you have. Also, scan the code with a mobile app or a bar code reader
to see if the scanned code matches the printed code. Review the packaging and the disc for misspellings and poor language use. Bootleg DVDs made in China will often have
incorrect English on the packaging.
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