Dead Over a DVD


The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has attempted to stop movie piracy by suing illegal downloading sites and their users, convincing bit torrent insiders to sell out their fellow pirates, and hacking those same sites and installing malicious code, with little effect.

Under the new direction of former federal prosecutor John Malcolm, the MPAA is now using dogs to combat piracy. The cute and cuddly pooches are trained to sniff out the polycarbonates used to make illegal DVDs, and have assisted in 35 raids, the confiscation of 1.9 million illegal DVDs, and the discovery of almost 100 burning stations. 

But the recent death of one of the dogs establishes a tragicomic parallel with the drug wars:

A yellow Labrador retriever named Manny, an MPAA-trained disc-sniffer, died last month in Malaysia at the age of 1. The MPAA is awaiting an autopsy report, but suspects the dog might have been murdered.

"Word on the streets," Malcolm said, was that disc-counterfeiting groups had put out a hit on the disc-sniffing pooches.

"We heard from enough people, we took it as a threat," Malcolm said. "We are very interested in getting the autopsy report. We are very concerned. I'm not looking to cast aspersions. But Manny all of a sudden died."

The two remaining dogs, worth $17,000 each, have likely recouped their costs a hundred times over, and there's no reason for the MPAA to discontinue the program unless, A) pirates kill all the dogs; B) Pirates figure out how to make DVDs out of something other than polycarbonates; or, C) The MPAA catches all the pirates. 

Seeing as the latter two futures are unlikely, I wonder how many dogs the MPAA would have to lose before it considered a thoughtful response to piracy?

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