Stealing DVDs for profit…

Stealing DVDs for profit
Big Lots ran a pretty nifty special in this past ad (depending how your area times it, it was either in the 7/26 (Sunday) or 7/29 (Wednesday) ad): assorted DVD Boxed Sets for $3 each. This goes with a special that they had a few weeks ago of similar savings; other boxed sets for $6 each. A little search of some of the stores around both here as well as reading various posts on forums like “” showed that these were all produced by Warner Brothers; one of the biggest arms in the Home Video market, and some incredible titles easily valued from at least 5 times the price. The previous haul had some nice finds like some Superman & Batman cartoons (as well as Scooby-Doo!); the entire Roots and Roots: The Next Generation deluxe boxed sets; Blade- The Series; and, the sweetest deal I got my hands on, the entire three season run of Wonder Woman (Ooooo- Lynda Carter!) boxed set! Six bucks was too hard to resist (the Wonder Woman set, for example, retails at $70+ at Amazon)…
…but it didn’t stop there- the more recent three dollar wave has had some pretty cherry things: The Flintstones seasons (I still need Season 5 of all six- anybody willin’ to help a brother out?) as well as the newer Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm series; a bunch of other Hanna-Barbera gems like Josie and the Pussycats entire series; Wacky Races series (and, separately, Dastardly and Muttly as well as The Perils of Penelope Pitstop); Top Cat series; Jonny Quest seasons 1 and 2 and others. They also had some live action things live the George Reeves Adventures of Superman (individual seasons); Tales From the Crypt (individually- still need seasons 6 & 7); and more recent things like various seasons of The War at Home; Lois and Clark; Everwood and Joey (Friends spinoff). There were also all kinds of cool, limited things that have been turning up (I’ve quickly come to cherish a boxed set of Popeye cartoons from 1933-1938)- but, like anything good it seems; there’s a hitch… It’s all stolen merchandise. From the Hollywood Reporter:
July 29, 2009
Warner Bros. lawsuit claims $10 million loss in brazen DVD theftBy Matthew Belloni
The home video arm of Warner Bros. has filed a $10 million lawsuit against a company the studio says agreed to destroy 2 million surplus DVDs but instead turned around and sold them on the cheap.
The complaint, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Agoura Hills-based IWMB, Inc. and its president, Cal Jones, were subcontracted to dispose of the excess Warner Home Video DVDs and Blu-Rays but intead hawked them to a third party who put them on the market at discount prices that significantly undercut legit retailers. At least 750,000 of the stolen units were sold and 250,000 remain unaccounted for, according to the lawsuit.
Studios periodically destroy excess DVD product, which consists of unsold discs returned from vendors and defective goods. Here, WHV says it entrusted the product to Cinram Distribution, which has a deal with Warners to handle excess inventory (and which, surprisingly, is not a defendant). Cinram subcontracted with IWMB, which is alleged to have shown Warners a “fraudulent certificate of destruction” before going out and selling the DVDs and Blu-Rays on its own.
“The resale of the Warner Product at prices that undercut the prevailing wholesale and retail prices resulted in a substantial loss of revenue to WHV, believed to exceed $10 million,” the complaint says. WHV alleges fraud, conversion and violation of California’s business code. It seeks punitive damages as well as an injunction against further sale of the stolen product.
Neither IWMB nor Jones could be reached for comment.

Warners is repped in the case by White O’Connor partners Andrew White and David Fink and associate Hajir Ardebili.”

Now WHY WB does this is obvious- they don’t want to poison their own retail arm and if the market is flooded with their product at an impossible price point, their retail partners would surely start returning unsold merchandise hand over fist, causing all sorts of issues for everyone involved. Also, as Blu-Ray is the new favorite date of late, this would surely undercut that market as well- something the fledgling new media doesn’t need right now. This is truly an odd case, and one that I’ve never heard before…
My suggestion? Take a trek to a few of the Big Lots in your area and pick up any of the titles that they have on hand that interest you- I have a gut feeling that in the next few days they will be “Gone With the Wind”…