One Missouri couple found out that Disney DVDs can, in fact, result in harsh jail time after being sentenced last week for their sale of counterfeit products.
In the era of streaming, it seems amazing that anyone would want to buy a Disney DVD, let alone that they would first search secondhand dealers online rather than sourcing directly from a reputable retailer like Target, which currently operates the Disney Shop in Shop pop-ups, or shopDisney.com! However, such was the case for many unfortunate eBay buyers who served as the main source of income for the Rodgers couple from Columbia, Missouri.
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A report released by the United States Department of Justice outlines the crime: officials arrested 43-year-old Tabitha Nicole Rodgers and 49-year-old Clint Travis Rodgers on suspicion of selling counterfeit goods for many popular Disney film titles through online retailers like eBay. In fact, after the marketplace canceled several of Rodgers’ accounts due to customer complaints that their items did not work, Clint began recruiting third-party sellers on eBay’s platform to distribute hundreds more counterfeit DVDs.
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Furthermore, other retailers such as Beachbody and Otter Products had served the smugglers cease and desist orders for their counterfeit enterprise, which they ignored by continuing to import false products into the country from Hong Kong from companies with a history of counterfeit exporting. According to prosecutors, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center first became aware of the Rodgers’ operation back in 2014 after observing that Clint had accepted over 443 shipments of counterfeit Disney movies from China-based retailers.
After that, the Center informed Homeland Security Investigation, who inspected two shipments seized before delivery at the Rodgers’ Columbia home, finding 200 bootleg copies of Beauty and the Beast (1992) along with 260 copies of Aladdin (1995), with another delivery in 2015 of 200 counterfeit Disney DVDs. Plus, undercover agents purchased items from the couple’s eBay account, which they advertised as genuine products despite the knowledge that they were fake Disney DVDs, and executed a search warrant to seize more evidence at the Rodgers home.
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Previously, Tabitha pled guilty to one felony count of criminal copyright infringement for profit, while her husband pled guilty to a misdemeanor count of the same. The case went to federal court, where both husband and wife appeared for separate sentences last Wednesday, with Tabitha Rodgers receiving four years in federal prison without parole and $26,573 in restitution fees for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits fraud, while Clint Rodgers received one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.
While the Walt Disney Company has not commented on the sentencing, of course, it will always encourage Disney fans to purchase authentic DVD merchandise from reliable firsthand sources.