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TK's MORNING BUZZ: For Those Who Can't Wait for Disney's Oct. 9 DVD Release of 'Snow White,' Ebay Is Your Answer

12 Jun, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Everyone's quite excited about Disney's upcoming DVD release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and with good reason. The studio went all out in packing special features onto this disc, including an exclusive song ("Some Day My Prince Will Come") by Barbra Streisand. Perhaps even more significantly, Disney developed an easy-to-use navigation system, with a wisecracking talking mirror as the host, to make sure Middle America knows how to get to all the really cool stuff.

I'm sure lots of people are eagerly awaiting the DVD's Oct. 9 release date.

But for those who can't wait, once again, ebay is your answer. As of yesterday afternoon, there were 14 pirated Snow White DVDs for sale, at prices ranging from $9.99 to $36. They're all imports -- "in English with optional removable Chinese subtitles!!," boasts one listing -- and the fact that American consumers can buy them directly over the Internet underscores a growing problem in the DVD marketplace.

For consumers, it's not a bad deal. Granted, the Snow White knockoffs they can buy on eBay aren't anywhere near as glitzy as the glorious two-disc set the folks at Buena Vista Home Entertainment are readying for U.S. release as we speak. They're essentially nothing more than a VHS transfer.

Still, for consumers who want a copy of Snow White to play on their DVD players, and want it now, well, a couple of clicks of the mouse and you're at least in the running. Those who don't like the suspense of auctions may purchase any of four Snow Whites on eBay directly, at this very moment, by clicking the "Buy It Now" button. There's a lovely copy in English and Mandarin for $20, plus $7 shipping from Singapore; another copy, which promises to be "region code free," goes for $29.99 plus $5 for shipping from Taiwan, with U.S. delivery guaranteed within seven days.

For U.S. retailers, however, this is a very, very bad deal. Not only are legitimate online sellers with an affinity for lowball pricing undercutting retailers, but now they also have to contend with America's biggest online auction house and its network of independent sellers, many of whom operate from out of the country in flagrant disregard of copyright laws.

One studio executive with experience in the international arena isn't surprised at this. "Most major U.S. theatrical releases are available in China on DVD and VCD within two weeks of their U.S. theatrical release," he says. "They're very, very good at it over there."

Indeed -- one enterprising seller even lifted Disney's new sell line for the legitimate Snow White, "The one that started it all!"

Where are the piracy police when you need them?

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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