McGruff, the DVD-Sniffing, Anti-Piracy Crime Dog

They claim it's a first, and let's hope it's the last - but somehow I don't think so.

FedEx and HM Revenue & Customs partnered in the UK to run the first major live test of using DVD-sniffing dogs to identify DVDs hidden in "boxes, envelopes or other packaging, as well as discs concealed amongst other goods", which the official parties involved feared could be sold illegally in the UK. FACT, the Federation Against Copyright Theft, says that these counterfeit discs are often smuggled by criminal networks involved in big piracy operations around the world.

The bit-sniffing dog-eat-dog knockoff-knock-down test run is part of a project being promoted by the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA). FACT convinced "one of the world's leading experts in the field whose other clients include police, fire and rescue service" to spend time (which otherwise might have been used saving lives) training two black Labradors, Lucky and Flo, to become demon dogs at the slightest whiff of tell-tale DVD odor.

Identified packages were opened and checked by HM Customs' representatives who found that all were legitimate shipments. Nevertheless, FedEx UK Managing Director, Trevor Hoyle, warned, "...our message to anyone thinking about shipping counterfeit DVDs through the FedEx network is simple: you're going to get caught...Flo and Lucky are on the case."

Hey, I'm a staunch believer in copyright protection - probably more so than the majority of people I know - but DVD-sniffing dogs? You want to put a major dent in piracy? Try sending those dogs to China - or, better yet, let's make China adhere to international intellectual property rights treaties. Two dogs and a guy with a box cutter and some packing tape wouldn't exactly fill me with fear were I a counterfeiter.

I wonder if the dogs are good enough to tell the difference between Region 1 and Region 2 DVDs?

Now that would be impressive.

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