Hollywood turns to dogs to sniff out DVD piracy

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The Independent US

Hollywood has a new weapon in the fight against digital piracy. It is sending the dogs in.

Their names are Lucky and Flo, and they are Labrador retrievers specially trained to sniff out CDs and DVDs tucked away in large cargo containers.

The hope of the Motion Picture Association of America, which gave a public demonstration of the animals' prowess this week, is that hundreds of dogs like Lucky and Flo can be deployed at ports and airports to crack down on large-scale piracy of films and television shows.

Hollywood is terrified about the possible impact of digital technology on its bottom line, especially now that computers and wireless connections are becoming increasingly fast and powerful, and the day is soon coming when a box-office hit could be easily pirated and e-mailed around the world.

The sniffer dog training programme will not solve all those problems, but the MPAA hopes it will at least cut down on contraband shipments of DVDs. "Because legitimate shipments of optical discs are generally registered on a shipping manifest, the dogs will be able to find discs in unlikely or unregistered containers, which usually mean they are being smuggled for illegal use or sale," the MPAA said.

Much like dogs trained to sniff out illicit drugs, the Labrador retrievers are trained to identify polycarbonate and other chemicals in CDs and DVDs. Lucky and Flo's demonstration in front of customs officials and intellectual property experts was a resounding success, according to the industry journal, Variety.