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MPAA training Dogs to Sniff Out DVDs 728

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-thought-this-was-a-joke dept.
LandownEyes writes "The dogs, Lucky and Flo, faced their first test at the FedEx UK hub at Stansted Airport. "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." Kinda makes me thing twice about shipping anything through FedEX. Seriously, this is like training drug dogs to find plastic bags."
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MPAA training Dogs to Sniff Out DVDs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:39PM (#15305256)
    I hope so.
  • Damn! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:40PM (#15305258)
    There goes my plan to smuggle drugs by DVD.
    • Probable Cause? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @09:01PM (#15305726)
      So if I ship my DVDs in a netflix enevelope wil they opne them. If they play them to see what they contain are they violating thr DRM? Do they he probable cause to perform this search?
      • Re:Probable Cause? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Zordak (123132)
        I don't know what the law is in Great Britain, but in the United States, you do not need probable cause for a dog to sniff a bag (at least for drugs--I'm not aware of any court that has tested DVD sniffs). Also, this is not a government search. At best, this is a private tort, and presumably FedEx gets your permission to search your packages when you sign that little shipping form full of small print.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:02PM (#15305912)
          I know this from...a trainer, we'll leave it at that. They have ways to make dogs indicate a "hit", using body language or subtle hand movements, etc., that part varies. They use that "technique" all the time when they want to search a car for instance even when the dog doesn't have a legit "hit". Just one of the many ways they circumvent the real laws. Here's another, carrying a "throw away". They will have access to a confiscated firearm, if involved in "an unfortunate shooting when the perp made a threatening movement" they can stick the gun in his dead hands.

          They do stuff like that all the time.

          Anyway, I don't have a big problem with them finding legitimate counterfeit disks, indications of mass piracy for profit. There's an easier solution, a few nations specialise in that trade, the authorities know who they are. Stop trade with them, cut it off.

            The US and UK have borked their manufacturing base so much now through "globalism and wonderful 'free' trade" that they can't do that very effectively.

          The movie industry could cut "piracy" off overnight, they choose not to. Retail sell disks for a few dollars, which they could do. They would rather bitch, get new laws, and insist on a hugely jacked up artificial price that in no way reflects costs and a reasonable profit margin. They still want as much for a new release on disk as they charged for a new release on tape 10-15 years ago. I mean, c'mon now, it is MUCH cheaper to duplicate movies now, and the transportation/warehouse, etc costs are much lower, and cost of movie production has only gone up a little, nothing like what these prices represent compared to their past cost of actual physical production.

          In short, they have brainwashed themselves into believing their own bullshit. They honestly believe that 20 or 25 bucks for a quarter disk is a deal to the drooling masses. At three bucks they would sell BILLIONS of freaking disks. 3$ is an impulse item charge, people would be grabbing handfuls of them, not even bothering with most file trading or looking up "CD Leroy" at the flea market.

          People are just not that stupid or naieve about costs anymore, not when EVERYONE knows how cheap it is to make dupes. Cost of movie production today-not a lot different from ten years ago. It has gone up some, but not that much. They refuse to drop prices on their offerings though, flat out refuse. All they want is lock on advanced tech for themselves, they want you to keep paying like it's 1990 or something. THAT is what wrong with their current business model and why piracy and file sharing is so common now. People have little moral qualms over shafting the mafia if it looks like they can get away with it, and that's all the **AAs are, mafia goons masquerading as businessmen. The **AAs-the companies they represent-screw the talent, screw the customer, and screw each other, it is one of the most shameless corrupt and bogus industries out there.

          It's a cartel,and if that NY prosecutor always in the news wants to investigate price fixing,collusion, etc, he could start there with the DVD movie selling industry.

          Someone needs to smack the Hollywood dweebs with the reality cluestick and introduce them to the concept of "volume sales" and how "net" is more important than 'gross" and how "serve your customer" is a better idea than "gouge-shaft-screw and prosecute" your customer.

          They are so used to being in a scumbag industry and dealing with fellow scumbags and being around scumbags all day long they just ass-ume everyone is like that. And they wonder why people have so little respect for them or could give a care about their profits now.
          • by ClamIAm (926466) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @12:14AM (#15306296)
            I know this from...a trainer, we'll leave it at that. They have ways to make dogs indicate a "hit", using body language or subtle hand movements, etc., that part varies. They use that "technique" all the time when they want to search a car for instance even when the dog doesn't have a legit "hit". Just one of the many ways they circumvent the real laws. Here's another, carrying a "throw away". They will have access to a confiscated firearm, if involved in "an unfortunate shooting when the perp made a threatening movement" they can stick the gun in his dead hands.

            Why not link to some credible sources, Mr. Anonymous? Sure, everybody has a friend who was fucked over because the cops bent or broke some law, but unless you can come up with some hard, documented evidence, your assertions here are baseless.

          • "Throw-down" guns (Score:5, Informative)

            by StupidKatz (467476) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:43AM (#15306648)
            ... carrying a "throw away". They will have access to a confiscated firearm, if involved in "an unfortunate shooting when the perp made a threatening movement" they can stick the gun in his dead hands.

            I don't have a lot of information on the rest of your claims, but I do know this one to be utter BS, at least where there is at least one honest forensic investigator.
            A "throw-down" gun will generally only have prints on the grip and trigger. A gun owned by a human will have prints all over the place: internal parts (put there when cleaning), magazine/cylinder, even each individual round of ammunition. It would be extremely obvious to investigators if a "throw-down" gun was used.
          • seem reasonable enough. I've seen references to the throwaway gun for years and years, and with respect to the dogs, all one has to know is that any system that can be easily abused WILL be abused.

            With respect to DVD pricing and piracy... if you can find a double-sided DVD-R at a reasonable price, I'd like to know where, the pricing I've seen is in the >$5 range. It's either that or pick and choose tracks using DVD-shrink... while the disk may be 25 cents, my time is worth something.

            While you may not like DVD pricing, DVD piracy is NOT a serious problem in the USA because DVD movies, unlike music CDs just aren't all that expensive if you don't insist on movies newly released on DVD.

            The hysteria about piracy is mainly so the movie industry can plug all Internet distribution channels they don't control, in order to freeze independents out.

            They know as well as we do that we're only a few years away from making movies technically equivalent to current Hollywood product (NO, I DON'T MEAN LOTR, that's another few years) on conventional desktop PCs.

            It's about control. They want to be able to say to people who want to sell movies to the public "Do it our way or not at all."

            Any resemblance between this and the record industry, of course, is purely coincidental.

      • Re:Probable Cause? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by smokeslikeapoet (598750) <wfpearson&gmail,com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:01AM (#15306415) Homepage Journal
        I'm from Memphis, where the Fedex world hub is located. I have several friends that work at the hub and often report the Feds (FBI, DEA, etc) letting dogs randomly sniff through lots of packages. These are drug dogs searching for contraband, not bomb dogs, which would kind of be understandable considering these packages are air freight. Why is a company like Fedex, letting it's customers privacy rights be trampled on by government and third party PRIVATE organizations? What do they have to gain? I just don't understand.
        • Re:Probable Cause? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by shystershep (643874) * <bdshepherd@@@gmail...com> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:56AM (#15307317) Homepage Journal
          You handed your package off to a third-party: you don't have any privacy right in it. Especially when you consider that (in the fine print) you expressly gave FedEx, UPS, etc., permission to open that package. The only things you have any privacy right in are those that you keep under your control. Once you put those things out where the public can get to them, or even worse, give control of it to a third-party, you might as well take a out full-page ad in the NY Times for all the good it's going to do you to gripe about someone looking in your package.

          The problem isn't that these companies are 'trampling' over anyone's privacy rights. The problem is that most people have no idea what their rights really are, and just assume that anything they don't like violates those rights.

  • by ArTiCwInD (846978) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:41PM (#15305262) Homepage
    "Dogs have been trained to sniff out potential downloaders from airport custom queues, more news at 11"
  • by hakr89 (719001) <8329650d-c1bd-41 ... 28@fa3.14ku.me m> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:41PM (#15305265)
    I wonder what would happen if I were to ship a burned DVD with Linux on it instead.
    • by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:03PM (#15305399) Homepage Journal
      Or an autostart function the checks if it is in a PC, and if it is, deletes everything.

    • by LocoMan (744414) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:27PM (#15305542) Homepage
      Was wondering something like that, considering that we ship CDs and DVDs very frequently from where I work... Anytime we make a video and we need materials from other city (like a client that wants a specific voice narrating their videos) we receive a lower quality version trough email (MP3 in my example above) and then a high quality version on CD or DVD depending on what material it is, and then we send the finished version of the video on DVD. (either as a final format, or as a preview version to be aproved before sending it in a more professional and expensive format). Most of the times we're very pressed for time and need the stuff to be here or there the very next day, tops... so any post service that did something like this, possibly causing a delay while they get sure the content is legal, would loose lots of business from us.
      • by utlemming (654269) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:45PM (#15306050) Homepage
        Make sure that you and your clients put the words "CONTAINS CONFIDENTAL TRADE SECRETS," on both the DVD/CD and the box. Then put a seal on the case that would indicate tampering. If they tamper with it you can argue that they violated your trade secrets, which are protected by law, and then haul them into court.

        Another tactic would be putting "UNRELEASED COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL," or for a combination, put both.

        If you have illegal material, then it is your problem. But if the material actually contains legitimate material then you could have some serious fun in the courts.
  • FUD? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by foundme (897346) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:42PM (#15305270) Homepage
    Is this real or just MPAA making false press releases to scare people off?

    I wonder if FedEx will be so keen when this thing goes live and 80% of the packages have to be opened, inspected and sealed, and the number of phone calls from customers asking why.
  • Privacy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alcimedes (398213) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:43PM (#15305276)
    So what happens when they find that homemade video a friend is sending you from their trip overseas?

    Unless they decide to actually play every DVD, or open the packaging to see what inside a case, how are they going to know?

    All a pirate would have to do is ship them in unmarked cases, or ones marked "Vacation video" and mail them to the US, where their partner opens them up and puts them in the final packing material.

    Sounds like a giant waste of time to me. And for what? DVD's. We can't even be bothered to search all of the crates coming into our ports, but hell, the MPAA has enough time and money to look for fake fucking DVD's.

    Morons.
    • Re:Privacy? (Score:5, Funny)

      by ImaNihilist (889325) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:49PM (#15305323)
      No, no, no. The dogs are only trained to smell burned DVDs that contain pirated movies. It's not that unreasonable. I can definitely smell the difference between my copy of LOTR and my original. The copy just doesn't smell as good.
    • Re:Privacy? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:53PM (#15305349) Journal
      According to the article they are going after big piraters, so presumably they are looking for a suitcase with a thousand DVDs or something.

      I have to agree with you though, of all the things you could train a dog to look for, pirated DVDs is really a waste of a dog. Hope my tax dollars don't go to that. Of course, my tax dollars are wasted enough that it probably doesn't matter.
    • Re:Privacy? (Score:5, Funny)

      by the GeeT (956313) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:58PM (#15305377) Homepage
      I've got a shipment of 10,000 vacation videos coming in on FedEx. :)

      Nerds Gone Wild...on shelves soon.
    • by RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:16PM (#15305468) Homepage Journal
      Shipping them in unmarked cases is a start, but to really guarantee the items against confiscation, they'd just need to add a holographic "This is a DRM Anti-Piracy Copyright Protection Seal" label on the seam of each case. At that point, the mere discussion of how to circumvent said label & gain unauthorized access to the contents would be a class C felony.
      • "This is a DRM Anti-Piracy Copyright Protection Seal" label on the seam of each case. At that point, the mere discussion of how to circumvent said label & gain unauthorized access to the contents would be a class C felony.

        A label isn't "digital rights management"...

        • Perhaps if the label contained a 30 digit hex unlock code that is the encryption key for the disc. The fedex folks in a hurry wouldn't write down that number and cut right through it- which would of course be on that metal film that disintegrates easily and would thus be unreadable after the fact.
    • FTFA: packages containing DVDs, which were opened and checked by HM Customs' representatives


      If I were paying Her Majesty's taxes I would be really pissed off if my public servants were wasting their time in the service of the MPAA...

    • Re:Privacy? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by melvin xavier (942849) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @09:16PM (#15305783)
      Well, but if you think about it, it makes no sense whatsoever. Why pay 10 bucks to ship something FedEx when you can easily transmit content electronically? It's not so difficult or expensive to burn dvds. I somehow doubt that any DVD smuggling ring worth their salt is FedExing DVDs. But the real point of this story is that The Industry Is Noticing That You Americans Are Copying DVDs. And they don't like it and they're powerful so they can impose futile, invasive, and draconian attempts at controlling you hoi polloi. And that's just what you get for possibly engaging in activities The Industry just doesn't like.
    • Re:Privacy? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by farble1670 (803356) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @12:27AM (#15306330)
      look. if they find an dvd, no worries. if they find 1000 DVDs, they'll probably look into it. pretty easy to tell. consider the size and weight of the package.

      seriously folks, get back to me when you find law enforcement spending millions of dollars to find and play every single DVD shipped through fedex, and get back to me when fedex accepts massive shipping delays and massive losses because of this. it ain't gonna happen.

      but yeah, i enjoy a good paranoid fantasy as much as the next guy.

  • Insanity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by reldruH (956292) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:46PM (#15305290) Journal
    Is it any wonder that of all the illegal products that can be shipped through the mail, the ones with the largest number of political lobbyists are getting special measures to ensure they're legitimate? This is really a case of money being used to influence politics. This is a huge invasion of privacy, and a nonsensical one at that. There's no way for these dogs to differentiate between legitimate and copied DVD's, and illegal DVD copies and legal DVD copies. Another case of the RIAA treating customers as the enemy. Makes me have no pity for them when they complain about being stolen from. Maybe if they gave their customers (you know, the people paying them) a little respect they might be able to get some sympathy and work with people to solve this problem. As it is, I think they're just contributing to it.
    • Re:Insanity (Score:3, Funny)

      by geobeck (924637)
      There's no way for these dogs to differentiate between legitimate and copied DVD's, and illegal DVD copies and legal DVD copies.

      Well, they could probably sniff out pr0n because of--

      The rest of this comment has been removed at the request of the TMI police.

    • Re:Insanity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by twistedsymphony (956982) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:43PM (#15305638) Homepage
      more so then their bullying of their actual customers is their crippling of the user experience. My favorites include:

      -Buying a CD and finding the Security tag glued to the paper insert such that if I were to remove it it would ruin the picture
      -Buying a DVD, popping it in and watching the mandatory "you wouldn't steal a car" anti-piracy add. You know the one that gets stripped out when they make pirate releases so the only person who sees it are the paying customers.
      -Paying $30-$50 for a special edition DVD or box set and being forced to sit through 15minutes of advertisements before I can watch the film
      -Paying $25 for an SACD because of it's "higher quality" and hearing a constant hum in the background caused intentionally by their anti-piracy measures (because people who rip MP3s really care about the higher bit-rate version of the disc, and doesn't intentionally ruining the quality defeat the purpose of a higher quality format? They wonder why more people aren' adopting it)

      I can't wait to pay $600-$800 for an HD-DVD player, and $30 per disc only to have my resolution crippled because the HDTV I bought last year doesn't feature the latest Anti-Piracy tech... I can't wait for my Windows OS to do the same thing because I don't want to upgrade my expensive and recently bought hardware either.

      When will they realize that pirates will get the content no matter what measures are in place. there are well documented ways to easily thwart everything I've mentioned above. In the end all it does is cripple the end user experience.

      The MPAA and RIAA have plenty of numbers that show how much they think they're loosing to piracy but do they have any numbers that show these ridiculous measures actually helping?
      • Re:Insanity (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @12:02AM (#15306274)
        Just a note, if you are hearing a sound low enough in frequency that you'd liken it to a hum, I would guess it's probably not actually the SACD watermarking, but rather a fault in your system. A ground loop would be my first guess, as 60Hz power and it's harmonic are probably the most common hum you hear in any system.

        I've listened to SACD on my system, and I couldn't hear any audible artifacts. Admittedly, it's not a stellar system, high end consumer geat only, but I think i'd probably notice a constant hum.

        It'd be worth your while to do a check of your setup, and if you've a friend with an SACD player, swap your source. The problem may be something electrical you can clear up.
    • Re:Insanity (Score:5, Funny)

      by Marsmensch (870400) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:49PM (#15305666)

      There's no way for these dogs to differentiate between legitimate and copied DVD's, and illegal DVD copies and legal DVD copies.

      Yes there is. If a dog finds a DVD (s)he watches it and checks the label to see if it's an original, before writing a report on the findings, and, if necessary, testifying in court.

  • by kbob88 (951258) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:47PM (#15305298)
    Apparently it's easy for the dogs to sniff out *only* the pirate DVDs because those are the ones that haven't washed in months and smell like salt-tack and grog.

    Unfortunately they haven't figured out how to train the dogs to avoid catching their noses on the hooks when they open the package...
  • This just means.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:47PM (#15305303) Homepage
    This just means you'll need some better airtight packaging.
  • By what authority? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:48PM (#15305309)
    By what authority does the MPAA have to even do this? They are a PRESSURE GROUP, not government. They are NOT THE COPS, they are NOT federal agents.

    Or is this just another example of the corporations saying "JUMP!" and the government saying "how high?"
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:48PM (#15305310)
    I would be interested to know how the dog distinguishes between a DVD and any other mailed product which contains plastic wrapping. Perhaps they are operating on the assumption that plastic wrapping materials of the type used to shrink wrap DVDs are not common in other types of mail. One also wonders how much of a dent this will actually make in the amount counterfeit DVDs and movie piracy in general. It was my understanding that bootleggers generally sell on the street, at swap meets, and other spontaneous social gatherings where the counterfeit goods are priced as impulse purchases at 1-2 dollars apiece. The rest are probably file sharing downloads of DVD rips to divx and such so how many bootleg DVDs, not orders from Amazon.com or NetFlix, are actually making their way through the mail system? It is probably insignificant.
    • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:07PM (#15305928) Journal
      Dogs really do have remarkably good noses, particularly the ones that are bred and trained for scent work. I'm not in the least surprised that they could be trained to find CDs or DVDs amongst other kinds of scents, including plastic.

      Consider that dogs can follow ground trails left by humans that are several hours old. They can discover human corpses that are buried under tens of feet of earth, even if there are corpses of other animals buried in the same place. Some can smell the presence of cancer tumours within the bodies of patients. Some have been trained to alert epilepsy patients 30 minutes or more before they have a seizure.

      Without a doubt, scent is the most dominant sense for dogs. Contrast this with humans, where sight tends to be dominant, followed by hearing.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedyNO@SPAMtpno-co.org> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:48PM (#15305312) Homepage
    Who else suddenly has an urge to go buy a spindle of DVDs and slip a blank ( convienently labeled, "MI-III" ) with everything they ship?

    Seriously, if you do a cost analysis, you'll find that the 10-20 bucks wasted on the spindle buys you the option to ship a real backup copy in the future.

    And speaking of backups, isn't it still fair use to make backups?
    • Re:So... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rolfwind (528248)
      Don't the Canadians have to pay a "piracy" tax on every blank dvd they buy? So doesn't that entitle them to import pirated copies?
      • Re:So... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jardine (398197)
        Don't the Canadians have to pay a "piracy" tax on every blank dvd they buy? So doesn't that entitle them to import pirated copies?

        Nope. The "Private Copying Levy" isn't on DVDs. It's only on media used primarily for music such as cassettes and CDRs (that's the intention at least). Private copying also only applies to music.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:26PM (#15305536)
      > slip a blank ( convienently labeled, "MI-III" ) with everything they ship

      Instead of sending a blank, why not just burn 9.4GB of /dev/urandom onto the disk. They'll probably end up spending over $10,000 per package by calling in the MPAA, the RIAA, the NSA, the CIA, and the DHS. After a few dozen false alarms, maybe they'll learn to stop invading customer privacy.
    • Re:So... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joe Tie. (567096)
      The urge, yes. But the history of the war on drugs has shown the legal system to not find those kind of pranks as funny as we do.
  • by BrynM (217883) * on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:48PM (#15305314) Homepage Journal
    I found another article [go.com] from ABC News that is (slightly) more specific. In it, they mention that "Customs officials in the U.K. hope one day the dogs will only signal when there are large collections of discs, which would more likely include illegally copied movies." This made me feel better - they were looking for bulk shipments. But then my hopes were dashed: "Trainers say the dogs have been notifying customs agents of packages with discs in them. The packages have been opened but so far no pirated movies have been found."

    Now wait a second. This is a test and they are opening real people's packages. WTF? (FTW?) I didn't know that shipping plastic optical media was a crime anywhere. Sure it's "customs" that's actually opening the packages, but the fact that it's plastic optical media is not probable cause. How many false positives have they had? Is it worth pissing off that many FedEx customers for the occasional actually pirated media (of which they've found zero)?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:49PM (#15305324)
    Drugs, high-explosives, weapons, decaptitated heads, those bowling ball type bombs with the wicks sticking out, a map of Afghanistan with Osama's hidden location clearly marked with an X, Sadamm's WMD and a 1.44 floppy with future plans on blowing up the Capital Building all went through undetected.
  • Home movies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:51PM (#15305332) Homepage
    What if you're FedEx'ing a home movie of your child's birth (including states of undress of the mother) to your mother-in-law who couldn't be there? Would the FedEx personnel be gawking at that?

    It's analogous to the P2P crackdowns where the assumption is that consumers are incapable of authoring content and only Big Media can.

    And, yes, I'm a bit surprised and quite alarmed that the tampering laws that apply to U.S. mail do not apply to FedEx.
  • by Charles Dodgeson (248492) <jeffrey@goldmark.org> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:51PM (#15305333) Homepage Journal
    Now when they train the dogs to sniff things out based on region code, that will be news.
  • by rollingcalf (605357) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:52PM (#15305345)
    The dogs have been specially trained by Scotland Yard to be able to not only sniff for the existence of DVDs in a package, but to sniff the bits and bytes embedded on the DVD. The 0s have a different smell from the 1s, so the dogs have been trained to interpret the bit patterns to know whether the DVD is pirated or legitimate.

    Still, the dogs have trouble in determining the legitimacy of 10% of the DVDs. For those where the dogs have doubt, the Customs agents have been instructed by the MPAA to classify them as pirated copies. It will then be up to the sender to show up in court to prove it was not pirated.
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:58PM (#15305375) Homepage
    This owuld pretty much stop my company from using FedEx for any shipments if they do this in the USA. We ship burned CDs/DVDs all the time, and I don't want the shipments delayed or damaged because they're constantly being pulled out and opened up for inspection.

    Even assuming they have 100% identification of illegal DVD copies vs false positives once they open them up, they're still providing nothing useful to customers, with serious potential for loss or damage of customers' materials, solely for the benefit of a third party. If the MPAA wants to pay for my Fedex shipping, then we can talk, but if I'm paying for it, you can bet your ass I'll be making life miserable for fedex employees when my shipment is delayed or damaged because of this crap.
  • Contact Information (Score:5, Informative)

    by jamesoutlaw (87295) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @07:59PM (#15305379) Homepage
    The Press Release instructs you to contact the following people for more information. I invite anyone concerned about this to do so as soon as possible.

    For further information:

    Eddy Leviten, FACT Head of Communications: 020 8568 6646/ 07768 057464
    eddy.leviten@fact-uk.org.uk

    LA: Kori Bernards or Elizabeth Kaltman: (818) 995-6600
    DC: John Feehery or Gayle Osterberg: (202) 293-1966
  • by rev_media (973772) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:18PM (#15305479) Homepage
    I don't ever ship with fedex, but I'm pretty sure the form you sign when you send a package states that your package may be inspected for ANY reason. I ship to Canada quite a bit and have had several packages delayed because of customs inspections. It's interesting that the MPAA can just walk into an airport and open up packages. Just shows you how much control they have on an international scale...
  • by rts008 (812749) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:19PM (#15305486) Journal
    After the initial WTF?!?!, the first thought that popped into my head was of an incident that occured in W. Germany, 1979 while I was stationed there (US Army).
    We (us hash smokers) had a contact in the MP detatchment that would alert us when they were going to bring the dogs in the barracks for *surprise* drug sniffing ops. Usually we would just consume all substances before they got there. One time my team mate got an idea....
    We used Johnson's Paste Wax (tm) on our barracks floors (as required) to keep it nice and shiny, the barracks used steam radiators for heat, which we would set the can of wax on to soften it for easier application. ..."what if we melt the wax, crumble up oh, say about 10 grams of hash into the melted wax, then heavily wax the floors?"

    Well, overkill being one of my team's trademarks, it ended up we mixed 30 grams of some really good "bubblegum black" hash into the wax, used the whole can on the entryway floor, and buffed.

    The MP's and two dogs showed up about half an hour later- the dogs went NUTS!
    They both went running around in little circles howling and whining for about 30 seconds, then bolted for the door trying to exit the barracks, the MP's could not gain control and had to let them out of the building.

    Several of the remaining MP's made a search, but could not find anything. :)

    Later on our contact told us that whatever we did totally burnt out the two dogs- they were worthless as "sniffing" dogs after that and were put on patrol duty. We never did tell him what we had done. (I use the term contact because he was one of our suppliers- we got most of our hash from such MP's!)

    Now, off to my lab to synth some "Pirated DVD Smell" to spray on ALL of my mail/packages! Muuhahhaahhaaahhaa ;)
     
  • Change of Media? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by monopole (44023) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:20PM (#15305495)
    Do I smell a transition to DivX/XviD based CDs. Or just a lot of flash media which happens to have DivX/XviD content encoded on a one time pad?

    Seriously, if they make possesion of a DVD tantamount to piracy, force people to show all of their DVDs including the naughty ones, they will simply force a transition to other less controllable physical media. Couple that with the nascent clusterfsck which HD-DVD and BluRay is becoming and you have a total loss of control over media and distribution which is the ony justification for the MPAA!
  • by Jerf (17166) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:23PM (#15305514) Journal
    As the title says, I honestly doubt this is legal in the US. The mere existance of a DVD doesn't constitute probable cause.

    I don't recall signing any contract with FedEx that says they can search my goods, but even if I did the Constitution trumps that. I haven't got a problem with them opening it for technical reasons (repacking a mangled package, perhaps, which I'd accept gladly), but opening them for the purposes of determing if you've broken some law probably won't pass 4th Amendment [findlaw.com] muster.

    As a positive example, while I'm not a fan of the drug war, a trained drug dog identifying a package as containing an illegal drug would probably be probable cause, because whatever small quantity of legal cocaine in the country (for research), if any, is unlikely to be sent through FedEx. But the mere existance of a DVD is nowhere near probable cause by any reasonable standard; I can't imagine that anything but the vast majority of optical media going through Fedex is perfectly legal.

    However, my guess is the MPAA knows this, and this is a publicity stunt only.

    (Finally, I'm not a dog, but I wouldn't be surprised they're not smelling DVDs so much as the packaging they usually come in, which has that New Plastic smell so strongly a human might be able to do this. If so, this is almost funny, because they'll never come up with the illegal DVDs that way. It'd depend on the training, and we don't have enough data to be sure either way.)
    • I don't recall signing any contract with FedEx that says they can search my goods, but even if I did the Constitution trumps that. I haven't got a problem with them opening it for technical reasons (repacking a mangled package, perhaps, which I'd accept gladly), but opening them for the purposes of determing if you've broken some law probably won't pass 4th Amendment muster.

      The Constitution is, of course, a document limiting the power of the federal government. The Fourteenth Amendment applied those same

    • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @09:51PM (#15305886) Homepage
      I don't recall signing any contract with FedEx that says they can search my goods

      Sigh. By handing your goods over to them, you agreed to exactly such a contract. See http://www.fedex.com/us/services/intl/ground.html [fedex.com] and follow the link for FedEx Ground Tariff. Buried deep in the Customs area is this:

      "Inspection of Shipments. FedEx Ground, or its agents or brokers, may open and inspect any or all packages in a shipment at any time. This action may be initiated by FedEx Ground or at the request of government authorities."

      It's put there so people think it only applies to stuff going through customs, but the description doesn't restrict it like that so anything goes. You can be sure there are similar statements in all the other shipping services. The fact that people believe they have government mandated privacy rights when handing things over to a commerical 3rd party amuses me. FedEx can do whatever the hell they want with your package, and the worst you can do to them is try to get back your declared value by following their claim procedure. You have no guarantee of privacy whatsoever when sending things through them.
  • by nsmike (920396) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:28PM (#15305547)
    FedEx was glad to help out on the test, I'm sure, but there's no way FedEx is going to let these dogs sniff every package.

    I worked at a FedEx sort facility as a package handler for a few months, and I'll tell you right now, those packages sit still for a total of 5 seconds once those trailers are opened. They go from the trailer to the belt, to the package handler, to the drivers, in the truck and out the door. No drivers are going to stand there and let a dog sniff out every package for a potential DVDs, especially if they have an appointment delivery to keep.

    I can remember mornings when trailers were late in getting to the terminal by five minutes and those drivers were whining so much it wasn't even funny. Now, I suppose they could be sniffed at some other point, but any delay will smear FedEx's "The World on Time" image. They're not going to be willing to do that, nor any other shipping company.

    Besides, if they do cooperate, just ship it through the mail, or UPS, or DHL.

    Not that I condone in any way the illegal distribution of copied movies.

    Not that I condone the invasion of privacy either.

    It's just a lose-lose situation all around.

  • Stupid dogs (Score:3, Funny)

    by houghi (78078) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:29PM (#15305552)
    Don't even know the difference between a CD and a DVD.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:39PM (#15305610) Journal
    ...ubuntu live cds thru fedex.

    Either they will claim it's piracy or better, use them to replace their windows systems.

    This only proves that distribution doesn't cost so much after all.
  • In some countries... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Marsmensch (870400) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:45PM (#15305646)

    ... you have to pay customs to watch your media.

    In Chile it used to be so that if the customs people at the airport found a video tape or DVD in your luggage, it was retained for a couple of days so they could check it for illegal porn, or forbidden movies (like the last temptation of Christ [imdb.com]). To recover your material you had to go pick it up at the customs office (which was a major pain in the ass if you planned on leaving the city where you entered the country in your first few days here), and pay a "viewing fee". In other words, they passed the cost of someone viewing your stuff onto you.

    I don't know what the situation is now,though. I haven't heard of this being applied in the last few years.

  • by Tjp($)pjT (266360) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @09:15PM (#15305779)
    As tempting as it is to send DVDs that have firmware upgrades for players, etc. or just random noise there is a downside. The false positive insures an opened package and as I learned this Christmas sending a stuffed suitcase through customs, not all inside made it back in afer inspection, curiously the canned crab went missing, and they are not real smart. They opened the sealed package of dog treats in one bag. In another they punched a hole through the bag of coffee (coffee is often used to mask drugs, now the dogs sniff out coffee too) instead of just unfolding the top like a normal person who has seen a store ground coffee bag. And when they repacked the cases they didn't bother to pad the Christmas ornaments (small ones for a small tree) they packed a now unwrapped bottle of wine next to the now unpadded glass ornaments. Needless to say Christmas carnage ensued. So maybe think twice about just what packages you ship with a blank CD inside. Oh, and if you do, think about using hot melt glue to bond the disc to the box. "But you really shouldn't do that!"(TM)
  • by krunk4ever (856261) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @09:21PM (#15305797) Homepage
    They're planning on opening fedex packages up which they believe to contain DVDs without any other reason to suspect that illegal copies of a DVD is being mailed? I feel that's kind of wrong, for someone to go through my mail or packages just because I ordered some DVDs online (maybe even foreign DVDs I can't get in the states).

    Doesn't the law require them to actually have a high probability of some offence before they're allowed to open packages to check its contents.
  • Smell Test (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @09:25PM (#15305811) Homepage Journal
    "Seriously, this is like training drug dogs to find plastic bags."

    Excellent analogy that punches through the clouds that the "Terror War" have cast on our sense of personal violation by the state.

    Corporate globalism, with no basis in justice or recognition of any rights beyond corporate property, means everyone is guilty until proven not liable by a corporate lawyer. Accusation = proof, just like medieval faith governments.
  • by cnerd2025 (903423) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:34PM (#15306012)

    Seriously, who came up with this idea. This goes to show what a crackpot organization the MPAA is. What for profit company has the cash to train animals to sniff out "pirates"? MPAA does. I can think of one prime example: the De Beers [wikipedia.org] diamond cartel in Africa. Like MPAA, De Beers has also received prejudicial treatment from the current administration. It also holds nearly 80% of the global diamond market, and is the sole reason that diamonds are indeed so valuable. By stockpiling diamonds via its monopoly, De Beers inflates the price while simultaneously using its marketing (A Diamond is Forever) to drive up demand. Feel free to read how wonderful a citizen this company is and has been throughout its history. De Beers would kill and does kill to ensure its diamond monopoly is unhindered. De Beers diamond mines would rival the security at the prison Zacharias Mousaoui was sentenced to last week. To me there seems to be a clear parallel between De Beers and the MPAA (or RIAA). Inflate prices through monopoly, buy off the government, drown any possible competition in paperwork, and prevent legitimate competition from freely working (DRM for indie artists, anyone?). I'll choose to vote with my wallet. Of course, it is also quite easy to complain to the FTC about antitrust violations.

  • by Nonillion (266505) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @12:42AM (#15306367)
    How can this even be legal? What bone head brainless piece of shit at FedEx allowed the MPAA to do this? If I ship a DVD to some one I expect it to only be opened by one person, the recipient. This would be like the RIAA going to the post office and opening everyones mail looking for lyrics. Un fucking believable! Well, the MPAA has pushed me into buying even FEWER DVDs this year.
  • by DrSkwid (118965) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @02:17AM (#15306599) Homepage Journal
    I work at a film production place. We send out about 150 screening DVDs a year. None of which are counterfeit, ALL of which are protected by copyright / licensing.

    So an agent of our courier opening and viewing them would be illegal or at least a civil offense on their part. The person sending them doesn't have the power to sign a piece of paper giving our courier or their agent permission to watch the DVDs.

    Finding a burned DVD inside a sealed envelope is not reasonable cause.

    At least I know who not to recommend as a courier.

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