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Operation Double Trouble

Alan Sipress

In large parts of Asia, aficionados of American cinema get bragging rights if they're the first on their block to put their hands on a newly released movie. Often, they succeed even before the film is out in their country. Some of the DVDs are copies covertly recorded with video cameras in American movie theaters. Some are clearly marked as discs meant for prize consideration rather than commercial distribution. Nearly all these DVDs are bootlegs.

And not only are they imported with breathtaking speed, they're often sold at tremendous discount. For the longest time, movie fans in Jakarta, Indonesia could buy DVDs for little more than a dollar a piece. The only risks for the buyer were that the discs wouldn't work when you got them home - or even worse-- the movies seize up halfway through. Rarely did anti-piracy cops move against the well-known stores that specialized in bootleg DVDs.

Now, authorities in neighboring Malaysia say they're getting serious. Under what they've dubbed Operation Double Trouble, government officials have deployed a pair of black Labrador retrievers named Lucky and Flo to sniff out DVDs and CDs. The dogs are on loan for a month from the Motion Picture Association of America, which said it spent nine months and $17,000 to train them.

Malaysian pups Lucky and Flo are the world's first dogs trained to find pirated optical discs. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

"These animals are the latest addition to our armory in the never-ending battle against optical disc pirates," Malaysia's domestic trade minister, Datuk Shafie Apdal, told Malaysia's New Straits Times.

On Tuesday, Malaysian authorities reported that Lucky and Flo helped them find almost one million illegal discs that had been hidden in an office complex in the city of Johor. The local enforcement chief for the trade ministry told the Associated Press that the discs were worth $2.8 million. Five Malaysians and a Vietnamese man were busted in the raid.

But Lucky and Flo couldn't have done it themselves. Though they've been trained to detect the small of polycarbonates, which are used in manufacturing discs, the pair have yet to learn how to tell the difference between legal and illegal.

By Alan Sipress  |  March 21, 2007; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Alan Sipress
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

This is great but where is our priorities?
From what I understand, we still have no absolute method of knowing if a dirty bomb is in any of the thousands of shipping containers that inter this country at any time.

Posted by: John Tovar | March 21, 2007 7:36 PM

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