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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 One of the abnormals (817423) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:45PM (#15305286) Homepage
    No, it's an official MPAA thing... see the PDF linked from the bottom: http://mpaa.org/press_releases/2006_05_09.pdf [mpaa.org]
  • Re:OMG! Poniez!!!!1 (Score:5, Informative)

    by bladesjester (774793) <`moc.daehsgnillohsemaj' `ta' `todhsals'> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:52PM (#15305339) Homepage Journal
    CDs and DVDs do indeed have a distinct scent. I know this is going to sound weird, but take the cover off of your spindle of cdrs and sniff.
  • Contact Information (Score:5, Informative)

    by jamesoutlaw (87295) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @08:59PM (#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 TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @09:14PM (#15305457) Journal
    You seem to be under the misapprehension that Customs agents need an excuse to open & inspect bulk or personal mail.

    They don't. If it goes through Customs, they can open & inspect it.
  • Contact FedEx! (Score:2, Informative)

    by paulzeye (736282) * on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @09:39PM (#15305612)
    I sent a comment to FedEx at from this page
    https://www.fedex.com/cgi-bin/qrf2.cgi?link=4&firs t=y&formpage=general [fedex.com]
    on their website. This is an important topic, and people should let them know how they feel about it. Please take some time to leave an intelligent comment about this issue.
  • by DrifterX79 (824302) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @09:40PM (#15305620)
    As an employee at a package and delivery business, I can tell you that packages get inspected for quite a few reasons, but less than 1% even get considered for inspection. I work in quality control, and as such inspect packages, of which most are damaged packages, and very rarely are they ever opened for any other reason.

    Further more, these inspections are carried out by Her Majesty's Customs, not FedEx. All international packages are subject to customs, and customs can open any and all packages they desire, and it matters not if its sent UPS, DHL or FedEx.

    A further consideration is that all major couriers comply with government regulations, and if the MPAA can get a goverment agency to write off on it (e.g. British customs) then they can carry out inspections at any courier, with or without permission. Most courier companies just willingly comply to do business in said country.

    But if changing shippers makes you feel better, go for it. But your package may still be opened and inspected. Especially with USPS.

    In short, FedEx, UPS, DHL, work to make money. So they comply with government requests.

    Please note, read your terms of shipping from any courier. They will give the carrier permission to inspect if desired.

  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @09:41PM (#15305621) Homepage Journal
    Sadly you can only recover from them the declared value of the parcel...and there's usually a maximum amount on it, and it often doesn't cover the destruction of non-physical stuff like data, doesn't cover loss of business, etc.

    Otherwise, everyone who's ever had a contract or CD of data lost in the FedEx system would have sued the living shit out of them.

    The law surrounding freight shippers is pretty well hammered out, the most you'd be able to do is insure it for a lot of money, hope they destroyed it, then claim he full value of the insurance.
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:03PM (#15305730) Homepage
    Did you not RTFA?

    Uh, yes, that's why I specifically had to note what my response would be if they implimented such a program IN THE USA.

    I realize you want to rise to their defense, and that's fine, but please don't misrepresent my statements in order to make your own seem reasonable. If FedEx begins using RIAA-funded dogs to inspect packages in the USA, I will find that highly objectionable. Right now they are only doing it with UK customs in the UK.

    And yes, this is solely for the benefit of a third party. You can wave your hands all you like, but customs duties for pirated merchandise benefit neither FedEx nor FedEx customers.
  • by Propaganda13 (312548) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:09PM (#15305760)
    The OP stated that all packages searched were legal, so the dogs are not clued to anything special about "pirated" DVD's.

    Everyone keeps mentioning burned DVD's, but they're going after piracy rings. That means a large shipment of manufactured DVD's, not some burned DVD's with the title written by a Sharpie.
  • Re:So... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jardine (398197) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:48PM (#15305878) Homepage
    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 greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:51PM (#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 Gorthax (974033) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:28AM (#15306334)
    Being a customs broker, i am amazed at the volume of reply's citing privacy rights. With packages entering the US each and every one is subject to customs search, which is not payed by taxes but paid by the consignee or ultimate recieving party. Also when you send a package internationally or domestically you agree that it may and probably will be inspected by either mechanical or human means. Read the fine print.... If you dont want to open yourself to a 4th party inspection, dont use a 3rd party courier.... Also, every container entering our ports IS inspected, by means of an x-ray machine "VICAS". Customs officers are employed to inspect shipments, they are not wasting time inspecting shipments personally. They are doing their job THOUROUGHLY. I bet you wouldnt complain if the same could be said for the DMV.
  • Nah (Score:3, Informative)

    by woolio (927141) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @01:45AM (#15306374) Journal
    After a few dozen false alarms, maybe they'll learn to stop invading customer privacy.

    After a few dozen false alarms, **YOU** would be deemed a threat to national security (after all, you're DOSing the justice system) and the corresponding consequences would follow.

    The only difference is we're not talking about sniffing powdered sugar in front of a police station.... We're talking about a legal item (dvd) being used in a common & legal way (transporting through mail).

  • by DrSkwid (118965) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:17AM (#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.

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

    by StupidKatz (467476) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @03:43AM (#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.
  • UK Importing (Score:2, Informative)

    by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (dnomla.mit)> on Thursday May 11, 2006 @06:21AM (#15306917) Homepage
    The problem with this is that the signal/noise ratio is really low.

    Drugs are illegal, which means that a dog can sniff it. Simply, it's illegal.

    Importing DVDs of many sorts into the UK is legal. We also have a huge amount of importing going on because of certain restrictions on sales of DVDs.

    To sell a DVD of a movie in the UK, you need a license from the BBFC that costs a load of cash (like thousands of pounds per movie). R1 discs are not submitted for license, and so cannot be sold here (by retail or mail order). But the law allows for a workaround, that customers can import any movie from abroad, as long as it isn't in certain banned categories.

    So, companies exist who provide cheaper, or earlier release discs, and mail out from other countries. All completely legitimate.

    Finding a pirate DVD amongst this lot is like looking for a needle in a haystack. If it's too successful, the pirates will just start manufacturing here instead.

  • Re:OMG! Poniez!!!!1 (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2006 @07:26AM (#15307023)
    you dolts. That's the smell of syrup. Not the waffles. bah.
  • by skarphace (812333) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @10:20AM (#15308023) Homepage
    At what point in time did FedEx get the OK to open my mail?
    FedEx isn't opening your packages, it's customs. This only pertains to overseas shipments.
  • by WinterSolstice (223271) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @10:55AM (#15308355)
    Ummm - no. I print it on plain old normal paper ($4 per 500 sheets, so $0.008) with ink that only costs about $13 per 100+ sheets ($0.13). It goes into a media folder that holds 400 CDs (so 200 with art) and cost $30 ($0.15 per CD with media). I cut it out with a pair of scissors. I burn on fairly normal Fry's media at about $15 per 100 ($0.15). That brings my total cost (obviously not factoring in my computer or printer, which I would need anyway) to a grand total of $10.428. We'll call it $10.43.

    So - let's compare that, for a new release that I just bought last night when I had an urge to hear Death Cab for Cutie (Transatlanticism) to a trip to my closest store (which is about 5 miles - it being a Target).
    The album on iTunes cost me $9.99 ($10.43 adjusted) and about 5 minutes of time while I was playing WoW.

    According to the Target website [target.com] it is currently $12.96. Assuming I drive, it will take me at least 10 minutes to drive there. I could conceivably be home with it in hand within 30 minutes - assuming they have it. It would cost me fuel (20 mpg/$3.35/g so $1.675)

    The album now cost me $13.932 with tax. With gas, we're looking at an adjusted price of $15.607 ($15.61). That, and I would have had to stop playing WoW, get dressed, go to Target at 22:35 last night... and oops. They close at 21:00.

    So - basically, to make a long story short - you're just plain wrong. The only point you have is DRM, and honestly I could care less. It's not like I can't pull the music back in with only minor signal loss (AAC -> AIF) and have DRM-free tunes.

    -WS
  • by good soldier svejk (571730) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @12:45PM (#15309589)
    Not only is it easy to teach a dog to do this, it is easy to accidentally teach her to do it. [kbrhorse.net]

Live within your income, even if you have to borrow to do so. -- Josh Billings

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