Compliance and DVDs. Yes, DVDs.


By Adam Turteltaub

Before the pandemic I traveled about 130 days a year for the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics & Health Care Compliance Association. To fill the hundreds of hours I spent on planes I watched a lot of DVDs. Some I bought. Some were given to me. Many were rented from Netflix. And, over the years, I built up a collection of over 500 of them.

These days they sit around collecting dust, and, like everyone else, or I thought like everyone else, I now download a bunch of shows and movies to my iPad.

But, it turns out that there are many people who still buy DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. It also turns out that two Amazon marketplace sellers and four of their companies were engaged in price fixing of DVDs and Blu Rays. Yup there was some serious wrongdoing going on in a market that most of us thought was as busy as your long-abandoned local Blockbuster.

It’s a funny, unexpected story and a good reminder that compliance risk is everywhere, even in forgotten and small corners of the economy. Got a tiny division of your organization selling some obscure piece of Jurassic technology to legacy users? Well, maybe it’s time to look at them again. There probably isn’t a lot of competition there, and it would be an easy market to manipulate.

Working in a company with billions of dollars of annual sales? You probably didn’t spend much time looking at the compliance risk of that teeny $10 million product line.

Have a remote office with just a few people that meets the needs of one small country or community? It’s probably been a long time since anyone spent time with the people there, seeing if the office has evolved its own culture and ways of doing things that may or may not be compliant.

Now, you don’t want to go wild, spend thousands of hours and go down each and every rabbit hole. You do, though, want to make sure that you haven’t forgotten any corner of the enterprise.

It may also be good to remind them occasionally that they haven’t been forgotten and someone is there both checking on what they are doing and eager to help them avoid compliance issues.

How can you do that? Maybe, send them the story about the DVD sellers as a good, subtle reminder that prosecutors don’t care how small you are. They only care if you are on the right or wrong side of the line.