Sniffing Out DVDs in the Fight Against Piracy Sniffer dogs have long been used to spot hidden explosives and drugs, so why not DVDs? The movie industry hopes to use dogs to help find pirated discs shipped around the world.
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Sniffing Out DVDs in the Fight Against Piracy

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Sniffing Out DVDs in the Fight Against Piracy

Sniffing Out DVDs in the Fight Against Piracy

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Major motion picture studios lose nearly two-and-a-half billion dollars every year to pirated or bootlegged DVDs. Renee Montagne learned that to curb these losses, there is a pilot program afoot. Actually, the script here says apaw.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Sniffer dogs have long been used to spot hidden explosives and drugs, so why not DVDs? That's the theory being put to the test by the Motion Picture Association of America and the U.K.-based Federation Against Copyright Theft, or FACT.

Raymond Leinster is the director general of FACT and he joins us on the line from - as a matter of fact, you're attending a police association gathering in Bournemouth, England.

Mr. RAYMOND LEINSTER (Director General, Federation Against Copyright Theft, United Kingdom): That's correct.

MONTAGNE: You've trained two dogs, I gather, in particular, at the moment -black labs, Lucky and Flo.

Mr. LEINSTER: Yes, indeed. They very much are guinea pigs and the dogs would actually be on a conveyor belt in a FedEx facility, trotting along, examining individual parcels, and they are very successful in identifying those packages that would contain DVDs.

MONTAGNE: So - went up to a package, sniffed it - what do they, point their paws?

Mr. LEINSTER: They will make a positive indication by effectively being excited, excessive tail wagging or a half-sit. At that point, that package would be removed, and then it would be subject to further scrutiny...

MONTAGNE: And how good were they?

Mr. LEINSTER: In our trials, they have 100 percent success rate. Now, we're not saying that they differentiate between pirated product and legitimate product.

MONTAGNE: They can't tell the difference between a pirated DVD and a legitimate one?

Mr. LEINSTER: Not yet. Certainly Lucky has a strong orientation towards action thrillers and...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LEINSTER: ...Flo loves romantic comedies. But, seriously, no, they can't differentiate that.

MONTAGNE: So when the dogs do well, what do they get for that?

Mr. LEINSTER: They get a soggy tennis ball.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: A soggy tennis ball?

Mr. LEINSTER: Yeah, that's their plaything and they identify that's a reward and they relish that.

MONTAGNE: How do you train them to sniff out DVDs in the first place?

Mr. LEINSTER: Well, effectively, our dogs have been trained to detect a plume of scent, which is actually comprised of the constituent elements of a DVD, such as polycarbonates, the lacquers, the resins, et cetera; that's a very unique scent.

MONTAGNE: We wouldn't be able to really sort it out as human beings?

Mr. LEINSTER: That's correct. You know, for us there is no smell attached to it and your listeners could try that at home; but we're acutely aware of the sense of smell that dogs have, and we're satisfied that dogs can be successfully deployed to detect DVDs.

MONTAGNE: Raymond Leinster is the Director General of the Federation Against Copyright Theft in the U.K. Thanks very much.

MR. LEINSTER: Thank you.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: From NPR News, this is MORNING EDITION.

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