Amazon Sues Online Stores Selling Pirated DVDs

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Online piracy is a massive threat to Amazon but physical pirated DVDs remain a problem too. This week, the company filed a lawsuit against a group of online stores that sell pirated DVDs of key titles such as 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' and 'The Peripheral'. While these DVDs may look real they are definitely pirated, as these series are only available on Amazon Prime.

amazon logoAmazon is not just the largest e-commerce retailer, the company also has a significant copyright portfolio.

In recent years the company has increased its anti-piracy efforts, both individually and as a member of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE).

The company does all it can to protect popular titles such as The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, The Boys, and The Peripheral, which are typically pirated shortly after their release. The main focus of these anti-piracy efforts is on pirate streaming and download portals, but it doesn’t end there.

Amazon Sues Pirate DVD Stores

This week, Amazon Technologies filed a lawsuit against several websites that sell pirated DVDs disguised as official releases. While these pirated discs are no longer as popular as they were 20 years ago, they remain a problem, especially when illicit copies are sold as the real deal.

In a complaint filed at a California federal court, Amazon accuses seven websites of selling pirated discs. These sites, including,, and, are presumably operated by the same group, using a variety of companies.

For the public at large, it may not be immediately obvious that these discs are pirated. However, since Amazon doesn’t produce or sell DVDs for these Prime Video series, there is no doubt that they are created from illicit sources.

“Defendants’ scheme to exploit the worldwide recognition of the Amazon Series is straightforward and blatant through their Piracy Websites, Defendants openly sell pirated and infringing DVDs containing unauthorized copies of the Amazon Series.

“To date, Amazon has not released for sale or distribution the Amazon Series on DVD, and instead exclusively distributes such content via its streaming-video-on-demand platform, Amazon Prime Video,” the complaint clarifies.


The piracy operation consists of at least seven websites and these all remain online today. According to Amazon, the sites ship to customers in the U.S. and abroad, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, resulting in mass copyright infringement.

Test Purchases

Before going to court, investigators conducted more than twenty test purchases of pirated DVDs. After these orders arrived, Amazon sent the discs to the Motion Picture Association which independently confirmed that they were all pirated.


These illegal sales don’t just hurt Amazon and other entertainment companies, people who buy the DVDs are victims too. While the cheap price tags are perhaps too good to be true, some people believe that these are official DVDs. The reviews, however, show that the quality isn’t always up to par.

“For instance, a customer left a one-star review of DVD Shelf’s website in 2021 stating that despite the company’s ‘claim[] to only sell genuine products,’ the customer found the DVDs were ‘of EXTREMELY poor quality’ and are ‘absolutely pirated copies,’ with, among other issues, episodes missing, sync problems, editing issues, and faulty discs.” Amazon writes.

The complaint lists Yangchun Zhang as a key suspect. This person presumably resides in China and obtained the ‘DVD Shelf’ trademark in Australia. In addition, Zhang is also listed as the registrant of several of the domain names involved.

Damages and Injunction

The complaint accuses Zhang and the others of both copyright and trademark infringement. Through the lawsuit, Amazon hopes to recoup damages, which can run in the millions of dollars.

Another key priority is to shut the sites down and Amazon asks the court for an injunction to stop all infringing activity.

In these types of cases, the defendants are not always responsive. For this reason, Amazon requests an injunction that requires domain registrars and related companies to hand over the stores’ domain names. At the same time, payment providers such as PayPal should freeze all funds, to pay off potential damages in the future.

The lawsuit was driven by Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit and the team’s director Kebharu Smith notes that they will continue to crack down on similar operations.

“The actions from this global ring of fraudsters not only negatively impacts rightsholders such as Amazon and affected entertainment companies, it also directly impacts the deceived customers, who thought they were receiving the real thing,” Smith says.

“Whether the attempted fraud is within the Amazon store or outside of it, we will continue to pursue bad actors wherever they operate.”

A copy of the complaint, filed by Amazon Technologies at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, is available here (pdf).


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