This was another service query and for obvious reasons I’ve kept the retailer anonymous because what he was suggesting turned out to be illegal. He thought that he might be able to run a ‘video rental club’ from his shop, signing customers up to a sort of library and using sell-through videos and DVDs which would only cost him about a third of what library rentals would cost. This would of course make it an extremely viable enterprise for him.

Concerned about the legal ramifications of such a scheme, I rang the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) on 020 8568 6646. I was told, no you can’t copy or rent out sell-through videos or DVDs. If you’re renting out either format, they have to be ‘rental copies’ and you must use a reputable rental company. If you rent out a sell-through you are in civil breach of copyright. If you copy and then rent out you are in criminal breach of copyright and the maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.

Mind you, that same weekend I rented out a copy of Phantom of the Opera from a big rental chain and when we put it into the DVD machine the first message that popped up said ‘not for rental’. When we took it back and pointed this out, wagging a finger, the bloke at the video shop at least had the grace to blush.

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