KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Two dogs trained to sniff out DVDs received medals from the Malaysian government on Monday for a five-month campaign that crippled movie pirates.
Lucky and Flo, black Labradors trained to detect the chemicals used in making DVDs, were the first animals to receive the outstanding service awards for finding discs stockpiled by pirates, the Motion Picture Association of America said in a statement.
The canine campaign led to 26 arrests and seizures of illegal discs worth over $6 million.
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"The dogs have proven to be a major asset in our fight against the pirates and we intend to continue what Lucky and Flo have set in motion," S Veerasingam, Malaysia's deputy minister for domestic trade and consumer affairs, said in the statement.
Malaysia, which figures on a U.S. watchlist on piracy, has dramatically stepped up efforts to rein in copyright pirates as it negotiates a free-trade pact with Washington.
The success of Lucky and Flo has prompted the ministry to set up its own canine unit to fight the pirates, and the MPAA, which arranged for their trial by Malaysian officials, plans to donate two new dogs to the unit by the end of the year.
Movie pirates even put a bounty of 100,000 ringgit ($28,560) on Lucky and Flo after they busted a fake DVD ring in southern Johor state in March, the MPAA said. Since then, the dogs have been closely guarded.
Lucky and Flo's next stop on their crime-fighting tour is a visit to New York, followed by a trip to Toronto for an appearance at a film festival, said the MPAA, which groups six major Hollywood film companies.
The MPAA groups Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS) Buena Vista; Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc (VIA); Sony Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp. (SNE); Twentieth Century Fox, a unit of News Corp (NWS); Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co's (GE) NBC Universal Inc; and Warner Bros, a unit of Time Warner Inc (TWX).
The group estimates that copyright theft cost its members about $1.2 billion in lost revenue in the Asia-Pacific region last year, with annual worldwide losses of $6 billion.