Canine Role in the Anti-Piracy Crusade

Disc-detecting dogs help shut down illegal DVD operations in Malaysia.
By JoAnna Lou, June 2009, Updated July 2016

Dogs have been trained to detect everything from bombs to cancer. But until this week, I had never heard of DVD sniffing dogs in the anti-piracy crusade. There really is no limit to what dogs can be trained to do!

According to the Motion Picture Association (MPA), its member companies lost 6.1 billion dollars to worldwide piracy in 2005. Struggling to find a solution, they turned to dogs’ superior olfactory abilities to join in on the mission.

Recently, a black Labrador named Paddy led a series of raids that uncovered 35,000 pirated DVDs and a replication machine, leading to the shutdown of six warehouses in Malaysia. Paddy was given to the country by the MPA to help in the battle against illegal DVDs.

Although not well known, dogs are not new to the anti-piracy scene. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) bought the first DVD-detecting canines in 2006, Lucky and Flo. Originally search and rescue dogs, their handler trained them to detect polycarbonate, the polymer used in DVDs. 


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In just a few short months, Lucky and Flo had sniffed out over two million pirated discs and even had a $30,000 bounty put on their heads by a Malaysian pirate syndicate. 

I always love to read about working dogs and their remarkable abilities. Many times we think of dogs playing more of a companionship role today. After all, you don’t see many Dachshunds hunting badgers or Shelties herding sheep. But dogs, such as Paddy, Lucky and Flo,  remind us that their role alongside humans is always evolving.

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.