Tuesday, May 16, 2006

DVD Sniffing Dogs

The Sidney Morning Herald reports:

Two black Labrador dogs have become the first in the world to be trained to sniff out counterfeit DVDs.

The dogs - named Luck and Flo - have already passed their first big test. They were put to work at courier company FedEx's UK hub at Stansted in the UK where they successfully discovered DVDs in parcels and packages.

That is pretty cool except for one thing. The next line of the article -

Although none of the discs they discovered was a pirated copy, the organisations behind the trial expressed satisfaction with the results.

These dogs are being trained to sniff out pirated DVDs. Which begs the question does the content of a DVD change the smell of a DVD? If I record a video of my kids on a DVD and then copy a movie onto the exact same brand of recordable DVD will they smell different? I don't think so. However the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) thinks that they will.

...the dogs are expected to go back to school to learn how to differentiate pirated discs from the kosher ones.

I want to know what they told the people who's packages they opened? "Sorry our dog smelled the DVD with your presentation to the board of directors on it and we just assumed that you are a movie pirating criminal. So we tore open your box, and looked at all your stuff. Sorry about the mess. By the way, your sales predictions for the 3rd quarter of '07 are a little low. Also, about that disc with the video of your grandchildren's school play - really cute kids you have there. We made a copy and sold it to a child porn retailer, in Hong Kong, to use as stock footage."

So are recordable DVDs going to show up on Fedex's list of banned items? Will we have to sign a waiver when we send videos to grandma allowing Fedex to open and view them?

I think the message is pretty clear here. If you use recordable DVDs, the MPAA and Fed-ex assume that you are a video pirate.

If the use of DVD sniffing dogs is going to become a standard practice by shippers think we all need to buy a couple of recordable DVDs and include one in every package we ship. They are getting pretty cheap, about $0.17 each in bulk. Just include a note telling your recipient to send the same blank DVD back when they ship something to you.

The Movie studios and the MPAA keep screaming about how much money they are losing to piracy. Yet they are wasting money training dogs to try and sniff out the content of recordable DVDs. Now we get word that the studios are paying Chris Tucker 25 million to make Rush Hour 3. Now who is the criminal in that transaction?

Maybe it's not piracy that is eating into the MPAA profits. Maybe it is their own stupidity.

One last little nit to pick, the dog in the picture that accompanies this news article is not a black lab.

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