The MPAA's New Secret Weapon: DVD Sniffing Dogs!

The MPAA is serious about stopping piracy—so serious that they’ve hired DVD-sniffing dogs to patrol border-crossings. No, we’re not kidding. DVD-sniffing dogs are real and they’re already on the job!

From the NYT:

At City Hall Park this morning, the association’s chairman and chief executive, Dan Glickman, showed off two black Labradors, Lucky and Flo, that have been trained to sniff for DVDs.

Their trainer, Neil Powell, 61, of Newcastle, Northern Island, has been a dog trainer for 35 years, preparing dogs to detect explosives and drugs and perform search and rescue missions. In a phone interview, Mr. Powell said that DVDs were a new area for him.

“The thing that motivated me at the start was to put a stop, or try to put a stop, to pedophilia,” he said, noting that the trade in DVDs are often used to produce and exchange child pornography. “That was my highest priority.”

It took Mr. Powell more than six months to train Lucky and Flo to detect and act on the scent of polycarbonate, the polymer used in DVDs. Since the spring, Lucky and Flo have been on loan to the Malaysian and Philippine governments, working with law enforcement officials at border crossings, participating in several raids and sniffing out pirated DVDs in storage centers and packages bound for export.

We think this is a much better strategy than suing your customers, but it is a little creepy. Don’t you think?

Fresh Off Malaysian Triumph, DVD-Sniffing Dogs Tackle New York [NYT]
(Photo:Liz O. Baylen for The New York Times )


Edit Your Comment

  1. nctrnlboy says:

    Catching pedophiles via dvd sniffing dogs. WTF?

    You’d think they would have better things to do that arent so…. impractical.

  2. cabedrgn says:

    I wonder what happens when its a legitimate burned DVD (such as Linux distros and the like) is the person outed as a pirate? Do they have to give up the CDs? Does the security at the airport get the right to shift through your DVDs (even if they are, say, nude movies of you and your wife during the vacation)?

    If its just large amounts (over 100 DVDs) than that makes more sense but the article doesn’t seem to point that out with the exception of a little blurb at the end on how they would like to tell the difference between pirated and non pirated DVDs. I don’t think its possible since they both use the same base chemicals.

    At that end, shouldn’t these dogs be used to ‘fight the war on terror’ and keep all those toothpaste wielding nail file stabbing terrorists at bay?

  3. nctrnlboy says:

    also… have you SEEN the counterfett dvds that are coming out of china & other asian countries these days? They look EXACTLY like the real thing. I’d hate to be the tourist who purchases what he thinks are legit dvds in an asian country & getting stomped on by heavyhanded security forces and draconian laws of said asian coutries.

  4. @cabedrgn: Why do you hate our freedom? ;)

  5. Nicholai says:

    Well, we don’t need more bomb sniffing dogs to catch the guy that’s about to blow you to bits, or the drug sniffing dogs, to catch the guy selling crack to 16 year olds, no. We need to catch the guy who’s selling a few copies of “the number 23”

  6. bigTrue says:


    Stop thinking. Remember, this is about catching pedophiles, so you obviously hate children.

    These dogs have a 25 or 30K bounty on their heads, put there by Asian pirates. I’m waiting for the story on them getting killed, heads left in the trainer’s bed.

  7. philipbarrett says:

    Must have been to a different part of Asia? Mine are pretty obvious, I think the banner that screams “Genuine First Best Quality” across the packaging might be a slight give-away.

    Anyway, this is all about protectin’ da chiltren isn’t it?

  8. Terek Kincaid says:

    Yeah, this story is about a year old. And yes, the dogs have a bounty on their head, poor things.

    Since there are only two of these dogs, I seriously doubt they are going to have them randomly searching tourists in the customs lines.

    Remember all the uproar that the majority of shipping containers coming into the US aren’t inspected properly? The manifest can say “lead paint-coated Thomas trains” (which apparently can get in just fine), but you could stuff a pile of pirated DVDs in there, and there’s a chance it would never be found. That’s where the dogs come in. They spot check containers. I’m sure they are looking for thousands of DVD at a shot (seriously, no matter how good these dogs are, I’m not sure they could sniff out a single DVD anyway – it probably takes the collective odor of a palette, but I could be wrong). If the dog gets a hit on a “Thomas the Tank” container, there’s a good chance of a massive load of pirated DVDs being in there.

    My guess is you only have to worry about these dogs if you are trying to smuggle in containers full of DVDs. Otherwise, just let the dogs do their jobs.

  9. DashTheHand says:

    So just because you’re carrying a DVD or CD with you, you’re gonna get pulled out of line and searched? Talk about wasting even more time. Since nearly everyone with a computer carries a couple of DVD’s or games with them, think of how much wasted time this is going to produce.

    Next up, Flash Drive sniffing dogs!

  10. guymandude says:

    Polycarbonate is material that most sunglasses are mode from. How are the dogs going to tell the difference between polycarbonate glasses (or any of the other 100 brazillion things that are made from polycarbonate) from anything else? Also, let’s say officer yappy signals that I have a DVD; how is he going to decrypt it? If it’s encrypted how does officer yappy know it isn’t a DVD of my little girls starring role as “Rabbit” from Winnie the Pooh? I’m afraid I’d be telling officer yappy and his handler to f**k off.

  11. RandomHookup says:

    Man, I would shit a brick if some sniffer dog alerted on my bag and it turned out to be smelling my perfectly legal copy of Lesbian Spank Inferno.

  12. @bigTrue: I remember that…

  13. bnosach says:

    How about RIAA sniffing dogs? I would invest in that for sure.

  14. Scazza says:

    Umm, where the fuck is Northern Island? I coulda swore its Newcastle in Northern IRELAND which is in the south on the coast near the southern border… But I could be wrong… Did the NYT mess up?

  15. Scazza says:

    @terekkincaid: “Yeah, this story is about a year old. And yes, the dogs have a bounty on their head, poor things.”

    From the article:
    “On July 13, 2007, Lucky and Flow led investigators to an estimated 100,000 pirated movie DVDs and computer games hidden in secret storage compartments in shops and a warehouse used by Malaysian movie pirates in Johor Bahru.”

  16. @DashTheHand, guymandude:

    The dogs are being used to look for stashes and troves of DVDs in areas like warehouses and airports.

    It doesn’t sound like they’re taking the dogs out to sniff people in line.

  17. BrockBrockman says:

    I don’t think these dogs are used to sniff your carry-on luggage. Or even your check-in luggage.

    But, if you’re driving a tractor-trailer across the border, or maybe pulling up to the harbor with a freighter, then I guess you’ll need to think twice about transporting your DVD porn collection with you.