The MPAA is rolling out a new technology in its war on pirated DVDs. This new weapon features the latest in olfactory recognition, operates without batteries for long stretches of time, and is trained not to make a mess on the living-room rug. That's right, the MPAA's new weapon against copyright infringement is a pair of black Labrador dogs. All together now: awwwwww.
The dogs, both 4-years old (in human years) are named Lucky and Flo. After being selected for their rambunctiousness – key to being a good sniffing dog – they spent several months in training, learning the unique scent of a polycarbonate DVD. The dogs can't tell by smell which DVDs are genuine and which pirated, of course, but they are skilled at spotting the discs even in difficult conditions. In a British airport, the Post reports, the dogs found a single DVD inside a suitcase full of canned meat. No telling whether the DVD was pirated, however, or why the suitcase's owner was carting around so much SPAM. The dogs have cost the MPAA almost thirty thousand dollars, but the organization says they've already earned that price back and more, having identified six million dollars' worth of pirated DVDs in Malaysia alone earlier this year.
The dogs represent an interesting new tactic for the MPAA; in contrast to the RIAA, whose lawsuit campaign targets consumer-level infringers, the MPAA is going after the distributors of pirated movies, the kingpins behind the cheap Canal Street burned DVDs. It's unclear, however, how and where the MPAA conducts its sniff tests: in the British airport example, for instance, were the dogs sniffing passengers' luggage? Are police accompanying the dogs, forcing the sniff-suspects to show any DVDs in their possession? The MPAA is, after all, trying to convince governments around the world to enlist DVD-sniffers of their own.