MPAA Lets the Dogs Out

The film industry lobby has employed DVD-sniffing dogs in its fight against content piracy.

The Motion Picture Association of America brought the two black Labradors, Lucky and Flo, to its headquarters on Tuesday to show their talents to customs officials and others who want to use them to sniff out optical discs being shipped illegally. After D.C., the MPAA is taking Lucky and Flo on to Los Angeles, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.

The tour is an effort to raise interest and demand for these specially trained canines in assisting those who guard U.S. airports, ports and borders.

Lucky and Flo have been trained to detect the smell of DVDs, but are unable to distinguish between CDs and DVDs and pirated discs. The plan is to have the dogs detect the DVDs and to have customs check the discs against the items people have legitimately declared.

The dogs are part of MPAA's multipronged approach to fighting piracy, which it says cost the industry $18.2 billion last year. Of that number, MPAA said more than $11 million is attributable to hard goods. Other approaches the MPAA is taking against piracy includes educating people about the consequences of piracy and taking action against Internet thieves.

The K-9 project began in 2004 when the MPAA took on a limited feasibility study to determine whether dogs could be trained to detect polycarbonate and other chemicals used in optical discs. Lucky and Flo were trained in Northern Ireland and put to the test in June 2006 after eight months of training. Their first test at Stansted Airport in Essex County, England, was a success.

"Lucky and Flo have helped us prove that if we think outside of the box, we can find new and interesting ways to assist law enforcement and customs officials around the world to stop illegal shipments of counterfeit DVDs from making their way across borders," said Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the MPAA. "These two animals are armed with an amazing scent that can help us in our fight against optical disc piracy."