Back-To-Back Copying

Back-to-back Copying is a Criminal Offence

It is a violation under Section 42(1) of the Copyright Act for any person to duplicate video products of copyrighted works for sale or rental. It also a fraud
violation under Section 380 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Even if a retailer purchases a legitimate video product of a motion picture title, the law prohibits him or her from copying it. Only the copyright holder
can authorize the copying of the work for any reason.

For the same reasons it is against the law to rent or sell unauthorized copies made by someone else. In other words, if someone acquires an illegal copy,
that individual cannot legally rent or sell that copy. 

Characteristics Of Legitimate Videocassettes

Legitimate pre-recorded videocassettes are manufactured with commercially-printed face labels and packaging. Labels differ from studio to studio in that
some are paper labels while others are silk-screened. Paper labels are usually in colour, have a gloss finish and have die-cut rounded corners. Some
have a watermark "logo" that is visible only under direct reflective light. The silk-screened labels are mechanically printed onto the cassette shell, usually
in white lettering although other colours have been used from time to time. 

Several studios also include security stickers on original videocassettes. These can appear in the form of a silver or gold hologram or a small rectangular
sticker with the studio's name and are usually applied to the right butt end of the cassette shell and wrap around the bottom of the sleeve.

In most cases, legitimate videocassettes are manufactured without an erasure tab evidenced by a smooth surface. Moreover, the majority of legitimate
videocassettes are now being manufactured with generic (no name) cassette shells.

Identifying Unauthorized Copies

Unauthorized copies can appear from quite crude to very sophisticated as follows:

(a) handwritten or typewritten face labels;

(b) photocopied black and white or full colour labels;
(c) magazine "cut-out" labels, or;
(d) illegal lab "knock-offs" - reproduced professionally with die-cut labels and boxes. They can appear very convincing to the untrained eye. Closer scrutiny however, reveals printing and die-cuts
not as sharp or precise as with legitimate copies. Security characteristics such as heat stamps,
laser imprints,studio holograms and stickers are missing.

The unauthorized copies are usually inferior in all respects and are visually distinguishable from genuine videocassetes. It is noteworthy that Picture and sound quality is significantly affected.

Retailers should be wary of videocassettes being offered by questionable unknown sources at significantly reduced prices, usually for cash and without receipts.


Retailers and consumers should be alert when purchasing or renting videocassettes and report any suspicious product or suspects to the CMPDA's Anti-Piracy Operations by either calling the Hotline or clicking on the Report Piracy link at the bottom of this page.

Everyone Loses

Illegal duplication of video products hurts everyone. Consumers who rent or purchase inferior unauthorized copies are rarely satisfied customers. They may take their business elsewhere once they notice the difference in quality between legitimate videocassettes and illegal copies.

The film companies and their distributors, who are in the business of selling legal video products, are hurt by these illegal copies as well. Only one third of all films recoup their production, marketing and distribution costs. 

Of course, illegal copying hurts the honest video retail store which is forced to compete with the store dealing in illegally duplicated videos. 

Legal Sanctions

Persons convicted of engaging in the unauthorized duplication and/or distribution of video products
face paying a heavy price. If a person is found duplicating videocassettes for rental or sale, that
individual may be subject to criminal convictions bearing fines to a maximum of $25,000 per count
or charge upon summary conviction and up to $1,000,000 for an indictable offence, plus
imprisonment.
Convicted pirates are subject to seizure of all illegal copies, the equipment used
to make them and the legitimate copies that were used as "masters". All items seized are usually
forfeited or destroyed. Guilty parties are also subject to civil actions for damages.


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© Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association (CMPDA), 2006. All rights reserved.