Amazon Prime Video has a bootleg movie problem and many subscribers probably have no idea

USA Films‘In the Mood for Love.’
  • Business Insider discovered on Tuesday that a bootleg version of the classic Wong Kar-wai movie, “In the Mood for Love,” had been available on Amazon Prime Video for months.
  • The version appeared to have been ripped from the Criterion Collection release of the movie, as its logo played at the beginning of the movie, and was listed with a fake title, “Those Good Old Years.”
  • The movie was made “unavailable” by Amazon on Wednesday after Business Insider notified Criterion.
  • This is not the first time a bootleg version of a movie has appeared on Amazon Prime Video. In late December, Japanese hit “One Cut of the Dead” was on the site for a few days.
  • But Oregon-based lawyer Carl Crowell, who is known in the industry for filing copyright infringement lawsuits, believes Amazon is doing the best it can to fight piracy.

You might assume that because Amazon Prime Video is a paid service, like Netflix, it wouldn’t face the same issues as YouTube when it comes to people uploading bootleg material onto the platform.

But you’d be wrong.

On Tuesday, Business Insider discovered a bootleg version of Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 classic, “In the Mood for Love,” available to stream on Amazon (there was also an option to buy or rent the movie, too).

And not only was the movie’s picture quality poor, but the title it was under was fake. The movie was labelled, “Those Good Old Years.

AmazonThe bootleg version of ‘In the Mood for Love,’ titled on Amazon as ‘Those Good Old Years,’ available to watch as of Tuesday.

The movie – which featured a Criterion Collection logo at the start, suggesting it was ripped from a home video copy – appears to have been available on Amazon since at least October 2018, because that’s when the first Amazon review comment was posted.

There were six verified reviews, indicating that some people did watch it.

One reviewer chastised Amazon for the poor picture quality, saying it was “lower than on YouTube ripped versions,” and pointing out the movie was labelled with the wrong title. “I guess constantly being listed within the top of ‘best films of all time’ lists isn’t enough for Amazon to pretend to care,” the review ended.

In the mood for love review amazon finalAmazon

That review speaks to a big problem with having bootleg movies show up on Amazon: unlike on YouTube, people assume they are legitimate.

After Business Insider notified Criterion of the bootleg version, Amazon made the movie “unavailable”on Wednesday. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

AmazonThe bootleg title was changed to ‘unavailable’ on Wednesday.

This is not the first time people have been duped into believing a bootleg movie on Amazon was the real deal.

Business Insider reported in January that a version of hit Japanese zombie movie, “One Cut of the Dead,” had been uploaded to Amazon Prime Video in the US and UK at the end of December. At the time, the movie was still seeking a US distributor, and the worry was that bootleg version could jeopardize its chances.

“People know that they’re watching pirated films when they show up on YouTube, but don’t expect the same on Amazon as it’s a paid, subscription service,” said Adam Torel, owner of UK-based distribution company Third Window Films, which is also the global sales agent for “One Cut of the Dead.” “In that respect, I don’t really know how to give advice to this not happening again or how to stop it.”

One Cut of the Dead Third Window FilmsThird Window FilmsA pirated version of hit Japanese movie ‘One Cut of the Dead’ was available on Amazon at the end of December.

But Oregon-based lawyer Carl Crowell, who is known in the industry for filing copyright infringement lawsuits, believes Amazon is doing the best it can to fight piracy.

“This will sound odd coming from me because I generally represent rights holders and promote increased protection for rights holders, but I don’t see any fault on Amazon on this,” Crowell told Business Insider on Wednesday. “I don’t represent them, I don’t work with them, but everything I’ve seen [suggests] they are doing a good job and I don’t think they should be expected to do more.”

Crowell pointed out that this was nothing new for Amazon, as the company has had similar problems with pirated ebooks. Crowell believes Amazon is generally aggressive in going after piracy and in helping the rights holders pursue those doing it.

“I think there needs to be more action taken against the people who are actually uploading the content,” he said. “Amazon is in many ways is just as much a victim as rights holders.”

Part of the problem is that like YouTube – but unlike Netflix – Amazon has a way for users to upload content. Prime Video Direct, which in the past went by the name Amazon Video Direct, is the company’s self-distribution arm. Its purpose is to allow filmmakers to upload their feature films, TV series, and short films free of charge for people to watch, buy, and rent on Prime.

The bootleg version of “One Cut of the Dead” got on Amazon through Prime Video Direct and it’s possible that’s also how the version of “In the Mood for Love” got on the site.


If you have any tips about bootleg movies on Amazon Prime Video, email the author at [email protected]

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.