Here is a profile of an official and an unofficial Ys II soundtrack CD, with the official King Records release above the fake SM "Sonmay" one. This is a good example of a very decpetive fake for many reasons. For one, the ACTUAL Falcom logo appears on the bottom. I can't believe they got away with this. On later fake CDs you will not find the official company logo anywhere. Look also at the black spine. Many fake CDs have a different colored spine from the real ones. In this example, since both spines are black, you'll need to look further to distinguish the real from the pirate, but you won't need to look too much further. Look at the fake again and you'll see "SM-040" in the upper left corner. This is just one of many fake catalog numbers that pirate CD companies use.
So, Why an Ys CD? Well, it's one of the few bootlegs I own. And, as the series garners more fame, there will be demand for soundtracks of the earlier Ys titles. Hopefully this will help you steer from making a purchase you won't be proud of.
The following picture shows the back cover of both CDs with the official one above the fake one. Taking a look at the bottom lower right corner of both covers reveals something more sinister. The pirate CD maker SM actually uses the correct catalog number (K32X 7704) here! If you didn't know that SM was a maker of pirate CDs, you could be deceived into thinking it was official! However, it's nothing to worry over, there are still plenty other ways to detect it's a fake.
You'll want to be careful on ebay, just because a correct catalog number is given, doesn't mean you're getting an official CD. If the seller can not provide a picture, request the record label be given. Ebay is rampant with fake game CDs, as well as fake soundtrack sets for such series as Catlevania and Final Fantasy.
The picture below shows the spine of both Ys II discs, with the official one on top. (click to enlarge)
Now the fake catalog number of SM-040 finally appears. Look closely how the pirate CD makers made an effort to create a spine that looks almost exactly like the official CD release. Take note, Falcom no longer uses King Records to produce it's soundtracks, so on any new Falcom discs you will see a catalog numer beginning with "NW". The King Records catalog number here on Ys II (K32X 7704) is also an early version of it's numbering system. On later releases King Records began using KICA-"Number" on most or all of their CDs.
Here is an image of both discs. Once again, the official disc is on top, the fake on the bottom.
Check out how similar they are, and yet at the same time they are very different. You can clearly tell which one is fake by the absence of the King Records logo on the bottom one. When I bought this CD the first time, I had no idea whatsoever that it was a fake. Even though this CD is quite old, it is evident that even back then SM or Sonmay was making fake CDs that look almost exactly like the originals.
Personally, I can not tell a difference in sound quality, but after years of going to conventions and seeing tons of these fake being sold, they get annoying, and they get you angry. I've seen too many of these now and it just ticks me off when I see them still being sold. Now, for this Ys II, all the tracks are the same on both discs, but I've seen a pirate release of Final Fantasy VIII that comes in a real nice case, but if you look at disc three it is actually missing "Eyes on Me," one of the most important songs in the game!
Until other countries get serious about importing game music into retail stores, these fakes are going to continue to have a market, for they sell for at least half the price of official ones. It is happening, but at a snail's pace. Common prices for fake CDs are anywhere from $6.95 to $14.95 USD.
Gamemusic.com deserves a big thank you for not only putting a stop to selling fake CDs on their own site, but for also making it possible to get many of the latest game music releases without having to pay so much to import.