The folks at Slashdot thought it must be a joke, but apparently not–the Motion Picture Association of America has trained a couple of black Labradors named Lucky and Flo to sniff out packages containing…DVDs. From a Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) press release:
For their first major live test, Lucky and Flo were put to work at FedEx's UK hub at Stansted Airport and were immediately successful in identifying packages and parcels containing DVDs for destinations in the UK.
"This is the first time dogs have been used anywhere in the world to search for counterfeit DVDs and the results were amazing, said Raymond Leinster Director General of FACT. "With the cooperation and assistance of FedEx and Customs we were able to properly test the dogs in a real life situation and prove that they can work in a busy airport environment."
"FedEx was glad to assist in Lucky and Flo's first live test in a working situation. They were amazingly successful at identifying packages containing DVDs, which were opened and checked by HM Customs' representatives. While all were legitimate shipments on the day, our message to anyone thinking about shipping counterfeit DVDs through the FedEx network is simple: you're going to get caught…." said UK Managing Director, Trevor Hoyle.
Since anything and everything flowing through FedEx might by stolen property–and whether it is or not can only be figured through lengthy investigation–following this principle doggedly would mean an end to convenient overnight shipping. At any rate, only the guilty have reason to fear having their packages opened willy-nilly by dog sniff by a private carrier who some of us foolishly might have believed we had reason to trust. I do not, of course, expect such an idea to be pursued avidly in other contexts–nor does it seem possible for them to do it universally at all FedEx shipping points.
But that this even happened once is a good example of how out-of-control is the current mania for digital rights holders' assertion of control over what we choose to do with digital entertainment items we purchase and presumably then own. I doubt a consumer's contract asserting that the upon purchasing a DVD, shipping it anywhere means you agree to have a representative of FACT open your mail would find many eager signers.