Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Dec 29 2012 23:30:41

Why Is Amazon Limiting Sales of DVD Titles?

By: Ina Steiner

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Amazon.com has instituted restrictions on many DVD titles, sending third-party sellers into a tailspin as they try to figure out if it's a temporary or permanent policy change. Sellers have started multiple threads over the past 6 weeks looking for answers as to why Amazon is limiting the sale of DVDs that they were previously allowed to list and looking for patterns to help them determine what's going on.

Adding to their concerns are reports that Amazon was allowing FBA sellers to send their DVDs to Amazon fulfillment centers even after the restrictions, which were unknown to the sellers, thereby costing them money and tying up inventory.  

One seller wrote, "I have been selling this listing for a long time and they are all brand new bought through a repetuable (sic) distributor and never had even 1 return of this item and now it lets me send in inventory but not sell them so I have to pay to get them sent back. Why is amazon letting us send in "restricted" items to FBA if it won't allow us to sell them?"

Another seller said the restrictions were for DVDs from a few studios, mainly Warner Brothers. An interesting observation, give that that particular studio has been cracking down on third-party sellers on Amazon - see this September article, "Warner Bros. Suing Amazon Sellers for Copyright Infringement." He compiled a list of some of the titles Amazon was reported to be restricting:

All BBC titles
Some HBO titles
The Closer all seasons
Falling Skies
True Blood
Chuck
Big Bang Theory
Game of Thrones
Cloverfield - (Paramount)
One Tree Hill - The Complete First Season - (Warner Bros.)
Party of Five - The Complete First Season - (Sony)
Scooby-Doo - Abracadabra-Doo - (Warner Bros.)
Step Brothers - 2 Disc Unrated Widescreen Version - (Columbia)
When Giants Roamed - The Golden Age of Steam - (A&E)

He went on to write, "FBA sellers are really getting hurt by this. In some cases, they already have the now-unsellable DVDs sitiing (sic) in the Amazon warehouses. In other cases, Amazon allows FBA sellers to create listings and send the DVDs in, then when they get to the warehouse, the listings are blocked by Amazon, unsellable."

Some of the threads in which Amazon third-party sellers are discussing the restrictions are here and here.

Some sellers theorized the restrictions were due to concerns over counterfeit DVDs; competitive reasons (Amazon offers the titles in physical and digital formats); demands by studios to limit titles to authorized dealers; or perhaps as part of licensing agreements Amazon has entered into with studios.

One seller suggested, "Amazon has been increasingly restricting dvd and video game listings. For one reason or another, they have closed off the new condition listing on your product. This is usually at the request of the manufacturer, but occasionally it is gated off for pre-approval to the category manager in order to list."

Some sellers shared the responses they received from Amazon customer support, but they left sellers as confused as before reading the explanations provided by service reps.

"I had the same problem a couple of day's ago with a Christmas blu-ray," wrote a seller on the Amazon discussion boards. "I talked to seller support on the phone and they said movie comp. such as Warner brothers and paramount place restrictions on certin (sic) best selling titles around Christmas. You can still list but not as a new product. It will be lifted after Christmas."

Sellers hoped as far back as November that Amazon would provide clarity on the restrictions.




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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 29 23:55:50 2012

Amazon playes the gated off game with alot of hot items, from alot of manufactorers...and there's very little anyone can do about it.

Amazon, as big as they are, is still afraid of being dragged into court for whatever absured reason the specific manufactorer feels like.

To protect themselves and to garnish favor in thier eyes, they cut off 3p sellers.

Pioneer, Sony, Monster and many others are blocked off entirely or have the NEW category removed.

There are also hidden Asins that are ONLY activated by manufactorer request - as I found out the hard way AFTER I bought the merchandise.

Its Amazon's sandbox so there isnt much anyone can do about it.

Warner is always looking for someone to blame aka ''piracy'' but thier newest game is ''intereferance in the contract between thier dealers and themselves''. Thats what I was told (I dont sell media but asked about it when I had an Amazon CS rep on the phone about another topic). Of course since Amazon 3p sellers arent party to those agreements, its all BS - but Amazon makes too much money from selling WB movies and downloads to even deal with the issue - its easier to just screw the 3p seller (as always).


Best of luck to all the media sellers on Amazon!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Dec 30 17:38:59 2012

This is another example of a corporation behaving the way modern American corporations behave.

The amount of corruption, endemic dishonesty, and theft from customers is measured by degree.

In terms of how it treats its 3p sellers, Amazon is only marginally more trustworthy than ebay.

Perhaps Amazon and Warner Bros have some sort of 'gentlemen's agreement' in place here.
ly Disruptive Purge began with policy changes that put ebay's then largest DVD seller, Glacier Bay, out of business.

Amazon is in business to make money for Amazon. As long as 3p sellers produce a great deal more revenue than the presence of 3p sellers consumes, Amazon will take a little here and there.

But if and when the "noise" level from 3p sellers sufficiently annoys Amazon, Amazon will have acquired a huge product catalog and source information from their 3ps, and 3p sellers will be history.

Don't trust ANY corporation.

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by: Cowbell This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 30 23:37:37 2012

It looks like an illegal end-run around the First Sale Doctrine. Media producers HATE the secondary markets because they don't get a cut. They are STILL trying to prevent the sale of used CDs and DVDs. They are STILL messing with the rental markets.

They simply do not want a small seller to buy a DVD at Wal-Mart for $10 and sell it for $15 on Amazon or eBay. The best way to stop it is to accuse the sellers of copyright infringement or counterfeiting. The burden of proof is now on a seller who lacks the resources to wage a court battle. All it takes is one such accusation to get your account shut down. Amazon doesn't care. There is always another seller to take your place.

It's possible to fight it on eBay, but they are such dimwits it's a hard slog.

Copyright holders HATE the First Sale Doctrine and will do whatever it takes to undermine it. Many sellers now actually believe it is "illegal" to sell a lawfully purchased DVD. You will see this stupid statement over and over on the Amazon board. A lot of sellers think "better safe than sorry" and just stop selling CDs and DVDs. This spreading attitude will help destroy the secondary markets from within, which is exactly what the studios and RIAA want.

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by: BackInBlack This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 31 00:24:48 2012

I've been hopeful the courts will at some point uphold the First Sale Doctrine because of the far-reaching implications of overturning it. Doing so could potentially stop the resale of ANY copyrighted thing---CDs, DVDs & games, sure, but even potentially old collectible books, magazines, photos, cassettes, vinyl records, VHS/Beta tapes, LaserDiscs, etc.  What applies to one should theoretically be universally enforced with all. The obvious & sensible answer is, if I buy it, I have every right to resell it for as little or as much as I wish in a free market economy. But maybe we don't live in one of those anymore. The game is rigged; the rich get richer & the poor get poorer.

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Mon Dec 31 00:47:02 2012

Here is what this all boils down to - as a consumer would you continue to buy new knowing it would be illegal to resell if the First Sale Doctrine was taken away?

Wouldn't seem like a free country to me. Personally I would stop purchasing new books, cds, dvds etc unless I got them dirt cheap since I would feel my rights were being taken away. I wonder how many others would feel this way if this were to pass? How many people would continue to be in a financial position to always buy new? Is this a peek into the fiscal cliff and what to expect?

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 31 11:01:47 2012

Wonder if the first dale doctrine would apply to - lets say a FORD MOTOR MUSTANG.  I'm sure that have that name locked up. If it would apply to books why not a car????

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 1 10:27:11 2013

Possible that Warner etc. have nothing to do with new releases but Amazon not wanting competition?????

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 1 11:31:35 2013

@ Freddy .... No its NOT Amazon.

Think about it this way ... the vig they make on you the 3p seller is in ''most'' cases more then they would make themselves if they sold it ... 3P (as long as its ''managed'') is win/win for Amazon. If they make the sale its win - the money is all thiers, if a 3P makes the sale - then they make %8-15 ...and thats not chicken feed!

Amazon has a dept for these types of issues. Whether its blocking ASINS (manufactorer request), copyright issues etc ... its all managed.

Dont ever forget - Amazon isnt eBay. Amazon is managed and eBay is the wild west!



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