June 2, 2005

New WM in Beijing Sells Black Market DVDs? (UPDATED)

Frank Yu describes his experiences in a new WM in Beijing, interspersed by relevant quotes from Star Wars movies. Frank had a great time, but he became suspicious that Wal-Mart was selling bootleg DVDs:

One chilling discovery during the visit came when we went to investigate the DVD movie selection aisle on the first floor. Along with the usual local Chinese movie DVDs encased in hard plastic box packaging, there were also foreign DVDs polywrapped in plastic with simply the cover sheet and the DVD inside packaged in the same manner that pirated DVDs were sold in China. Most surprising of all was that the price of Disney´┐Żs Dumbo was only about 6 yuan(that's less than 1 USD). Pirated DVDs from other Beijing stores cost about 10 yuan while poor-quality street versions cost about 8 yuan. These DVDs were cheaper than the pirated versions sold around Beijing. I cannot confirm if those in the store were actually legitimate or not, but given the price and packaging I would make a guess that they were not. I should not be surprised since pirated DVDs have been found to be sold in Chinese post offices and government buildings by vendors who set up a table inside. Since almost all retailers in Beijing seem to do the same thing as well, one gets desensitized to the practice until you realize that this is Wal-Mart.
If the DVDs are legitimate, then Wal-Mart is undercutting the prices of movie pirates, which is simply astonishing.

UPDATE: In the comments, Frank, the author of the linked article, notes that he has posted a photo of the DVD shelf in question. Thanks, Frank!

Posted by Kevin on June, 2 2005 at 08:19 AM