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Dogs Sniff Out DVD Pirates in Malaysia

3 Jun, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey


DVD copies of Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation, Angels & Demons and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian were among 35,000 pirated discs seized in a two-day raid in the Malaysian state of Johor May 30-31.

The six warehouses where the discs were found were only one mile from Singapore, a transit hub for illegal DVDs made in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Motion Picture Association (MPA), the international counterpart of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), estimates the film industry loses $1.2 billion in revenue annually to disc and Internet piracy in the Asia Pacific region.

The illegal copies of DVDs, games and software were uncovered with the help of Paddy, a black Irish Labrador trained specifically to smell for the polycarbonate plastic in discs. Using Malaysia’s copyright theft laws, officers raided the warehouses under the belief they contained DVD-burner labs. Instead they found assorted boxes and packages containing discs, including DVDs for four films still at theaters (as of June 3 the films had grossed a combined $510 million at the box office). No arrests were made.

“We are glad to hear that Paddy’s skills are being put to good use against the large, organized network of pirates involved in exporting illegal pirated DVDs to Singapore,” said Mike Ellis, president and managing director of Asia-Pacific for the MPA.

Mohd. Roslan bin Mahayudin, director-general of enforcement for Malaysia’s Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, called the dog’s part in the raid “crucial in identifying the DVDs, which we later confirmed were pirated copies.”

The MPAA first studied the possibility of training dogs to detect the chemicals in DVDs in 2004. After eight months of training, the first two black Labradors, Lucky and Flo, successfully identified DVDs in packages at an airport test in the United Kingdom in 2006. Paid for by the MPA and MPAA, DVD-sniffing dogs were first introduced in Malaysia in 2007, in an effort dubbed Operation Double Trouble.

In their first six months in Malaysia and the Philippines, the dogs conducted 35 raids, resulting in 26 arrests and the seizure of nearly 100 DVD burners, five replication machines, and nearly 2 million pirated DVDs (estimated street value: $3.5 million). Lucky and Flo were so successful, one Malaysian pirate syndicate put a bounty of $30,000 on the dogs’ heads, the MPAA said.

“Lucky and Flo are the MPAA‚s two most unique employees,” Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, said last year. “These two dogs have sniffed their way around the world assisting law enforcement officials in tracking down pirate operations.”

Following Lucky’s and Flo’s success, in 2008 Malaysia established the first-ever K-9 unit dedicated solely to detecting discs, bringing Paddy and partner Maddy over from Northern Ireland.

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