MPAA’s Anti-Piracy Dogs, Great Publicity but Nothing Special

Opinion

Lucky and Flo, the MPAA's DVD sniffing dogs are currently on a promotional tour in Asia. Last week, in Malaysia around 1 Million discs were seized in a raid on an office building in Johor Baru, a city in the south of the country that neighbors Singapore. The roughly 16,000Kg (or about 35,250lb) of optical media was picked out by Lucky and Flo who are able to smell Lexan, a very smelly substance which is used in thousands of products. The collateral damage was not reported.

mpaa dogs lucky flo Commenting on the Malaysian haul, Neil Gane, a spokesperson for the Motion Picture Association told Reuters, “Lucky and Flo were able to sniff under the doors — all the doors were locked, and many of them had metal grilles. If they smelt polycarbonate, they would sit down. Then the officials used metal grinders and bolt cutters to open the doors.”

Not mentioned, however, is the number of doors cut open and forced that did NOT contain any media. When you add in all the other items that are made of polycarbonate, watch faces, macintosh cases, rulers, and anything else you can think of that needs to be shatter-proof (even the lenses in my glasses are made of Lexan, and they are each more than the16g or so a CD/DVD weighs) its more of a wonder why in their search for that material, they just didn’t bother with the dogs until after the doors had all been opened.

For those unfamiliar with Lexan, or polycarbonate, to give it its real name (Lexan is a trademark of GE) its a plastic similar to acrylic (or plexiglass) that can be formed in many ways. It has extensive uses throughout the Radio Control world, for instance. It’s used for RC car bodies, right up to the walls of the arenas used for Battlebots/RobotWars-type shows. It’s used in auto-racing for windscreens, and indeed anywhere resilience is needed. (such as bulletproof-windows , example of 2×1/2″ sheets of Lexan stopping bullets)

Regardless of their actual targeted accuracy, the dogs, Flo and Lucky, are now apparently under a ‘death threat’, presumably from the gang that owned that tonnage. Its not that great an idea though, because rally, Lexan does stink. About two years back I hauled 12 4ftx8ft sheets (half 1/4inch thick, half 1/8inch thick) of Lexan about 270 miles. One trip, continuous, and not even on a hot day (it was march). I finally sold the vehicle I did it in last month, and the first thing the seller asked when he came to look was “what’s that smell”. It was, you guessed it, the Lexan. If it was still smellable in a vehicle, 2 years after I hauled 250kg of it for a total of about 6 hours, exactly how hard is it for a dog to smell, or more specifically, how hard is it to train more dogs to smell this distinctive scent?

When Flo and Lucky were first announced to the public, in May of 06, they were given a test run at Fed-Ex’s US hub, at Stansted. They detected lots of packages containing Lexan, none of them illegal. Despite this, the operation then was considered successful , one only wonders what success rate they consider acceptable now.

Meanwhile, in China, the 28 tons of discs seized were not ferreted out by a plastic sniffer, but apparently plain old police work. Odd to note, however is that of the nearly 1.8 million discs, only 1.64 million are suspected to be “illegal pirated copies of legitimate movie and television titles.” One does then wonder why they’re holding those 150,000 other discs , some 8.5% of the total haul. Additionally, they took 30 machines used to erase a tag that shows the manufacturer of the discs. Of course, why a pirate operation wants to remove the ID numbers that show which original plants the discs come from is beyond me , surely they’d add to the authenticity of the disc, if they really were intending to defraud consumers.

On a lighter note, it would have been interesting to watch either group’s haul being moved. 28 tons doesn’t exactly fit in the back of a car after all. In fact you can just about move it with this crane.

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