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Dogs Trained to Sniff Out Piracy 147

Posted by Zonk
from the anti-peg-leg-pooches dept.
RockDoctor writes "Northern Ireland has for decades been using sniffer dogs to detect bombs and bomb-making materials. According to the BBC, a dog trainer in the Province has trained two dogs to sniff out some of the chemicals used in the manufacture of optical discs. While this has an obvious risk of false positives (polycarbonate plastics and their associated plasticizer additives are used in many other industries, for example), it does seem to be effective at locating discs which are not declared in customs manifests, and doing so much faster than human inspection of the cargo can do."
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Dogs Trained to Sniff Out Piracy

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  • Workaround (Score:2, Funny)

    by Mr_eX9 (800448) *
    Fly with your external hdd to transport your piracy overseas.
    • by Jozer99 (693146) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @09:22PM (#18397771)
      My dog can already sniff out Body Odor, Ramen noodles and Hotpockets, the three indicators of major piracy (and WoW) and I haven't even trained her! How is this a big deal!?!
    • Well, that's what gets me wondering. Mind you, I'm against piracy, but, starting with the least important:

      4. It's a measure that doesn't even work, and is so easily circumvented it's not even funny. As you noted. You don't even need to get a dedicated external HDD, just use your iPod/Zen/whatever. Or use an USB stick or card. E.g., there are 4GB memory card for the PSP, and they're smaller than a stamp. And the PSP has an USB port too. So if you brought a portable console along for the long airplane trip, y
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:25PM (#18396513)
    Well, at least the dogs should not get addicted to plastics, like the drug sniffing dogs...
    • by eneville (745111)

      Well, at least the dogs should not get addicted to plastics, like the drug sniffing dogs...
      that nearly made me spill my coffee!!
    • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @06:20PM (#18396849)
      Drug sniffing dogs are addicted to plastic?

      The credit card industry is really making irresponsible loans these days. There's no way these dogs make enough money to cover all the treats they'll buy if they're given half a chance preapproved with a 0% teaser rate.
    • by staeiou (839695)
      Well, at least the dogs should not get addicted to plastics, like the drug sniffing dogs...

      I know you're joking, but this comment is also in response to the "Won't dogs get cancer sniffing chemicals?" question. The dogs take in the same amount of particles no matter what they trained to detect. Imagine them like a vacuum cleaner that picks up every scent that every bag gives off. They are trained to notice certain smells, but they inhale everything equally. Bomb sniffing dogs were inhaling drugs long be
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by j-pimp (177072)

        Well, at least the dogs should not get addicted to plastics, like the drug sniffing dogs...

        I know you're joking, but this comment is also in response to the "Won't dogs get cancer sniffing chemicals?" question. The dogs take in the same amount of particles no matter what they trained to detect. Imagine them like a vacuum cleaner that picks up every scent that every bag gives off. They are trained to notice certain smells, but they inhale everything equally. Bomb sniffing dogs were inhaling drugs long before they were trained to detect them, and both drug and bomb dogs have been inhaling these chemicals since they were put in action.

        So are veterinarians on Slashdot able to answer this? In general, do airport dogs, or any other group of law enforcement trained scent finding dogs, tend to get different sicknesses than the general population of dogs of the same breed? I would think that state and municipal dogs tend to get more variety in their environment. Howerver, dogs assigned to railroad and airport security details tend to breath air from the same mostly closed system day in and day out. If they tend to get lung cancer or other di

        • by rts008 (812749) on Monday March 19, 2007 @12:45AM (#18398645) Journal
          IANAV (I Am Not A Veterinarian), but AM a certified, licensed Veterinary Technician (think RN for critters).

          I have never seen any research or data on this question you bring up. Usually, something this far from "Mainstream Public Awareness" never gets studied unless someone with vested interest in the specific topic is interested in pursuing the subject, and has enough influence to make it happen.

          (Disclaimer: my awareness of research is NOT all encompassing!!!)

          The answers you are looking for have probably not been addressed, if they have been- not public knowledge. It may have been addressed by the Humane Society, or the SPCA, but if so, has remained fairly quiet.

          Hate to say it, but even tho' "man's best friend" is man's best friend, the dog is still considered a domesticated beast to serve us; Thus only to be considered on a "how useful to us" basis.

          My experience with K-9's (Police Dogs and US Military MP's) suggest several things:

          1. The handlers/partners usually have the dogs as family pets in addition to being their work partner. This may limit overall what the dogs get exposed to compared to all human teams doing the same job.

          2. The dogs have REALLY sensitive olofactory organs- if it's too "strong", they will keep their distance and "point" to indicate a detection or hit.

          3.Uhmm... they're not immune to "specialized training":(http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid =185460&cid=15305486)

          4. A lot of this has been covered here:(http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/05 /10/2331237&from=rss)

          5. Mostly, if it's not considered hazardous for the human handlers, then it's not considered hazardous for the "k-9"'s on the same duty.

          I doubt that the issues you are adressing have been fully thought about...I commend you, and feel slightly ashamed that I have not thought about this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hazem (472289)
        The dogs take in the same amount of particles no matter what they trained to detect. Imagine them like a vacuum cleaner that picks up every scent that every bag gives off.

        That only makes sense if the atmosphere has a uniform distribution of every kind of particle. Clearly this is not true. If the distribution is uniform then the dogs would have no differential to determine direction with.

        Drug dogs are trained to seek out areas with higher concentrations of drugs. How else do you think they are able to de
  • by mangu (126918)
    What if the dog gets interested in the content of the disk? [animal-sex.com]
  • by deft (253558) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:30PM (#18396551) Homepage
    First they do this... and then they train the dogs to sniff out the actual pirates.

    Once these dogs have the secent of basement dwelling teenager with poor hygiene... it's all over.

    RIAA is probably training them now. What exactly is the scent of p2p?
  • by straponego (521991) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:32PM (#18396561)
    We're constantly learning that animals can accomplish feats we've been too arrogant to suspect them of: reasoning, memory, abstract concepts, tool use, eleven dimensional bee dances... and now, these dogs can determine, through scent alone, whether bits are pirated or legitimately owned.

    Incredible.

    • We're constantly learning that animals can accomplish feats we've been too arrogant to suspect them of: reasoning, memory, abstract concepts, tool use, eleven dimensional bee dances...

      Indeed. For anyone who hasn't seen any of the recent stories in the press or on TV, dogs are also said to be able to sniff out cancer.. [nationalgeographic.com]

      A bit more useful to mankind than sniffing out polycarbonate disks in luggage, but what the hell. A dog's nose is pretty amazing, but I still like the cold and wet part best.
    • At least it's better than the magic 8 ball method the RIAA seems to have been using. :)
  • Do these dogs die of cancer?
  • by Zarf (5735) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:41PM (#18396623) Journal
    Arr, thar be no pirates aboard me ship. She be yar and she be true as spit shine as all me laddies. Ye nay be needin' th' poochie here cap'n. Wha? Why tha' be chemicals fer me special scurvy cream. I swar I ne'er heard o' no Day-vee-day piratein' They be like gold bar? Arr! L'emme go ye scalliwags! Ye, canna keel haul a-man fer youst ha'in chemicals fer the scurvy! I swar ser it's medicinal! Don' let 'em lock me in thar brig! I did'na heard no Day-vee-day pirates! Dis is per-poster-mos!

    Poor Long Burn Silver Disc we never saw him again.
  • So now the pirated discs will be declared as DVD-Rs or something, perhaps with a few real DVD-Rs on top to fool lazy customs inspectors.
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      You make it sound as if DVD-Rs aren't DVD-Rs
      • by russotto (537200)
        Sorry, I should have made that clearer -- they'll declare their pirated discs (whether pressed or burned, since the article says the dogs can't tell) as BLANK DVD-Rs, and put a few real blank ones on top.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:55PM (#18396715)
    The filthy beggars ne'er get a wash. A man can sniff 'em out himself at thirty fathoms!

    • by mangu (126918)
      The filthy beggars ne'er get a wash


      Yes, they did [wikipedia.org]. At least the sailors who were undisciplined enough to become pirates did.

    • by Raptoer (984438)
      Fathoms is a measure of depth, I'm not sure how person could smell a pirate if the person was 180 ft underwater, but thats just me.
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @05:56PM (#18396717)
    to train them to sniff out films and music that smell bad? A single copy of The Wickerman remake can be smelled by a human with a head cold at a hundred yards. A good bloodhound should be able to sniff out a box of them from the next county.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ship burnt disks rather than making them in the destination country?
    not transfer files over the net rather than by airplane?

    Anyway...
    I guess these dogs will be used at the docks rather than the airports, to make sure cargo contains what the manifest claims.
    I'm pretty amazed that dogs can smell these solvents in such tiny amounts, and also that they can distinguish a very specific solvent among all the millions of others that will be all around the docks!
    They must use more intelligence than we think, perhaps
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      ship burnt disks rather than making them in the destination country?
      not transfer files over the net rather than by airplane?


            Because this is a plot by Microsoft to prevent the shipment of Ubuntu discs! :)
    • I'm pretty amazed that dogs can smell these solvents in such tiny amounts
      IANASD (I am not a sniffer dog), but have you ever cracked open a stack of CDRs that didn't smell awful? There's some funky stuff in them there disks; if sniffer dogs can't smell it then the world's in some pretty big trouble.
      • by nomadic (141991) *
        ANASD (I am not a sniffer dog)

        Isn't it kind of pointless to explain extremely common acronyms like that?
        • by mj_sklar (888539)
          Is "I am not a sniffer dog" really that common? I've never heard someone call themselves a sniffer dog in the past.
    • >>Why would anyone ship burnt disks rather than making them in the destination country?>>

      Simple. You can have an industrial scale DVD burning operation in China operating in broad daylight, stamp enough DVDs to fill a cargo container (thats, ahem, "A lot"), and then move them to America to sell via the gray market. Marginal cost per DVD is far less than it would be trying to make them in America, because in the US you'd be using small setups, like some shareware writers have for servicing thei
  • I had no idea the Brits were having such a problem with piracy? I had no idea the pirates were resorting to putting disks on planes for the purpose of taking the planes over. I mean, it has to be actual pirates to which this refers, I would hate to believe _this_ much effort is going into simply looking for undeclared optical media, esp. when a hard drive can hold so much more.
    • by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @06:16PM (#18396827)
      This is probably to catch 'round tripping' tax avoidance. This technique was accidentally discovered by Sir Richard Branson when he started Virgin Media. Basically what he did, was to export discs to France with faulty paperwork or something, have it refused entry, then he turned around and drove back to Britain. Since the stuff was officially exported, he somehow scored on the VAT when he subsequently sold them in his UK shops. Eventually he got caught though, once he got too brazen about it.
    • It's not just piracy they are worried about. It's also extreme porn and adult anime. The really nasty stuff some take for granted over here is against the law in the UK and they actually do check for it in the mails and have confiscated discs and charged the intended recipients with obscenity crimes.

      They also go after anime which defames the church, especially if it's some sort of porn anime with religious overtones. They don't play games with that stuff. It'll get you busted like kiddy porn over here e
  • I think the first dogs will be put to use on april 1st ... ;-)
  • Priorities? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @06:09PM (#18396803) Homepage Journal
    More money and effort is going toward finding copied disks than in finding Bin Laden? I thought sniff-dogs were in short supply after 9/11? What gives? Big corps have way too much power of late.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)

      More money and effort is going toward finding copied disks than in finding Bin Laden?

      What makes you think we don't know where Osama is? The thing to understand is that operationally, Osama has no power anymore, he's only good for PR. GWB and his boys are simply waiting until it's closer to the election to spring him a la October Surprise...

      • by Tablizer (95088)
        Osama has no power anymore, he's only good for PR.

        Only? That's a lot of PR.
               
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      given that most of the trouble in the middle east started over corporations wanting to keep their power and control (even going as far back as post WW1 and preventing the unification of Arab nations), I'd say they've had this 'too much power' thing for quite a while.

      Hell, the East India Company wasn't named that just because it was a cool name, it was the first corporation (well, equivalent, they didn't wall it that), to actually own a country.
    • If I was involved in security, I would rather look for plastic cds, or ticketing drivers going a couple miles over the speed limit.

      Who would want to go after criminals, they might shoot me, and why would I want to stand in front of a terrorist, they have a tendancy to explode.

      F that, give me a desk job where I can sit down, snoop through my little security cameras, and check out the women.
    • by nagora (177841)
      More money and effort is going toward finding copied disks than in finding Bin Laden?

      I'm pretty sure Bin Landen's not in Northern Ireland. Too much competition.

      TWW

    • More money and effort is going toward finding copied disks than in finding Bin Laden? I thought sniff-dogs were in short supply after 9/11? What gives? Big corps have way too much power of late.
      Probably because the economic impact of what Bin Laden does is much smaller in comparison (the real global shock has been caused by the US overreaction)
    • by iminplaya (723125)
      Big corps have way too much power of late.

      Hmmm, where do you suppose they get it from? Government? And where do they get theirs from?
      • by Tablizer (95088)
        Hmmm, where do you suppose they get it from? Government? And where do they get theirs from?

        Corp. campaign donations. Voters don't have the granularity to pick and choose individual issues, so politicians favor corps to get money and accept the risk of looking like a corporate kisser and even hide it by emphasizing issues such as abortion and gays. This is what has happened.
             
    • I thought sniff-dogs were in short supply after 9/11?

      (Set karma burn in 3..2..1)

      Rescue dogs, yes, for obvious reasons, but the attempt to retrain the drug dogs failed as they all
      kept following Pres. Bush around for some reason.
  • I fer one welcome me new pirate-sniffing houndy overlords!
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @06:18PM (#18396835) Homepage
    As in, "aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"

    When are people going to figure out that a "false positive" is not a nuisance, it's a death blow to any proposed technology--unless the risk of false positives is orders of magnitude lower than the actual frequency of the rare event being detected?

    Doesn't anyone ever read Æsop's fable about the boy who cried wolf?

    Polycarbonate plastic is just the generic name for Lexan® [geplastics.com], and if you follow that link you'll notice that GE mentions many uses besides DVD's: automotive lenses, "blow molding," eyewear, water bottles, structural foam, etc. The example they show in the picture is a cell phone. I believe the original iMacs (the CRT-based ones) had Lexan housings. The company I work for uses Lexan strips to protect a surface where thin metal plates slide over and would otherwise scrap a painted shelf. The stuff is used everywhere.

    After customs inspectors have wasted two or three days opening crates of various products with tough molded Lexan housings, they'll forget the whole silly business.
    • by zmollusc (763634) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @06:57PM (#18397057)
      Wrong. We are talking about government. If this turns out to be a huge waste of resources, more taxes will be levied in order to expand the operation into a gigantic waste of resources.
    • After customs inspectors have wasted two or three days opening crates of various products with tough molded Lexan housings, they'll forget the whole silly business.

      Possibly, but most other products made with poly carbonate do not have the other chemical smells associated with CDs. Oh, and since I made them for five years please add baby bottles to the list.
  • The **AA should get together with the trainer of these dogs and Ted Stevens. Imagine what they could do with trained dogs sniffing the tubes! Piracy would drop significantly!

  • Arrrghh! Smells like booty!
  • This isn't new news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Frenchman113 (893369) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @06:43PM (#18396979) Homepage
    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/10/23 31237 [slashdot.org] shows that the MPAA has tried this before. Altogether, I can't say this is a very smart idea. Additionally, it would be remarkably easy to DDOS by adding fragments of DVDs to every package you ship. Lastly, how many of us have our warez shipped to us? As people wisely noticed before, this is a ridiculous invasion of privacy and all the more reason to hate the MPAA and to download movies instead of buying them.
    • by iminplaya (723125)
      Lastly, how many of us have our warez shipped to us?

      They're also training the dogs to sniff out those new watermarks over the internet.
    • by Fred_A (10934)
      You have to admit using dogs to fight copyright infringement makes sense. After all the dogs are among the ones that p2p while humans only p2 relieve themselves. So canines are already in the loop.
  • For those who don't know, that'll be Taiyo Yuden disks :-)
  • Think about the volume of physically produced pirate media within a country compared to that shipped between countries, especially given technology improvements such as BitTorrent. Also, now you'll have two people and two dogs sniffing for CD/DVS's (and not even indiscriminately with respect to pressed vs. burnable), and presumably you still have to have another two people and two dogs checking for drugs, too.

    BTW, this news originally came up 9-12 months ago:
    http://www.betanews.com/article/MPAA_Employs_Pira [betanews.com]
  • ...adding something that has a strong odor to mask the smell of plastic discs? I've heard of people using coffee beans to cover up the smell of pot in luggage, it should do the same thing here. Some really nasty people would probably spray their luggage with mace or cayenne pepper to burn out the dog's sense of smell.
    • Good idea, you can get lion poop (sold as Zoo Poo) at the Pretoria zoo in South Africa. It is commonly used to keep dogs out of flower beds. However, naphtalene moth balls work just as well in flower beds and may be easier to explain when found in your luggage than Zoo Poo...
    • Actually, none of those things will deter a bloodhound from separating out scents they are trained to find. [And Chemical Mace would certainly set off the airport's sniffers - resulting in searched luggage anyways.

      Coffee beans .. heh .. thats what happens to your brain when you SMOKE too much pot, coffee beans will clear lingering residue from a human's nose, barely, if your like .. smelling perfume, or candles .. because its normally of of a differnt tone of scent, not because it masks smells :P

      I can see t
  • I remember a year or so ago FedEx allowed the MPAA to use these dogs on some of the packages they were shipping. Ever since then I started using UPS. I don't buy or send pirated disks, but if FedEx is going to sell out to those folks I figure I'll just go brown.
  • Security Theater (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hans Lehmann (571625) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @07:12PM (#18397117)
    These trained dogs, unless deployed for a limited time in a specific area, are there for little more than show. Although they can be trained to sniff out almost anything, they aren't robots. The dogs treat it as a game, but they need frequent breaks or they'll quickly tire of it. You can't just march a dog for 8 hours around the airport and expect him to magically find any contraband that finds its way into the building. They may be the best choice in a situation such as a building collapse, where they need to find bodies in an area of a few thousand square feet, but to expect that even hundreds of these dogs will be able to sniff the millions of cargo containers that come into this country every year is laughable. Besides, since it's perfectly legal to ship blank media, anyone in the bootlegging business will just declare the cargo and it will get lost among the false positives of all the other blank DVDs that come in from overseas. But I guess that trained pooches do make for good press releases, letting everyone know that something is being done about this horrible scourge of bit copying.
  • Customs declaration:
    Qty 1: DVD with random data
    Qty 9,999: Blank DVDs
    Qty 1: Industrial-speed DVD duplicator

    Random data, of course, is encrypted pirated material which looks random to anyone without the correct password
  • The dogs in N. Ireland must have been trained by the same people that trained Lucky and Flo in this 2006 story.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=1944531& page=1 [go.com]

    The look on the dogs faces are saying to me: "What? Sniff out pirated media? That's so 2006."
  • Interesting, at first i thought this was going to be a reference to this story:
    http://techdirt.com/articles/20070316/112645.shtml [techdirt.com]

    Granted that dog's noses are quite amazing, are there enough subtle differences between the plastic my discs and, say, my phone, for a dog to tell them apart?

    I guess i'll have to close down my buisiness of exporting copies of Benny and Joon to the UK.
  • I think most of the people saying "Well, why don't they just send it over the Net?" are missing the point here. We're not talking about P2P kid-in-a-basement "piracy" this is with reference to real, commercial piracy. These aren't burned discs they're looking for, these are real, pressed DVDs from a factory in China, the kind you see sold by guys on a blanket in Chinatown. They're "real" DVDs, but they are an unauthorized copy of the film in question.(This is a huge industry, BTW)

    The utility of these
  • will be the first true "packet sniffer"? Can't wait!
  • What a waste of a perfectly good dog.
  • by freedom_india (780002) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @09:34PM (#18397839) Homepage Journal
    ....and the Govt, keeps worrying about raising taxes to built a public transport system, etc.
    We should have a way to selectively pay taxes to support initiatives we like, and MPAA initiatives like these should come out of Warner, and not me.
    • If people could choose what they pay taxes for, social security and welfare would go right out the window, then we'd have a big problem with all the sick and disabled people dying in the streets. Charity workers don't make up for the difference.
  • Woof, woof, sniff, sniff... I smell those pirated ISO images and MP3s! Arrr! In any case, these dogs are PERFECT representations of the MAFIAA.
  • So anyone who burns our own CDs/DVDs is now going to get hassled by rabid barking dogs and "terrorism" cops as we travel. Geeks are second class citizens, until we prove we own the data on the discs we burn.

    Not only is this abuse of the modern press freedom that burning our own media means. This is yet another example of how the infrastructure rationalized by terrorism gets extended well beyond terrorism defense into serving a corporate agenda having nothing to do with national security. And recycling the p
  • What could help to a degree to decrease the detection threshold is subjecting the discs and their packaging to elevated temperature (40-60 'C?) for few days under conditions of partial vacuum. This will remove the bulk of volatile chemicals from the material. The residues then can be handled with using packaging materials with added activated carbon, which absorbs the organic chemicals the characteristic scent consists from. Silica gel may do almost as good job too.
  • This is most distressing. Why, pirates are already few in number, and heavily hunted. With this insidious new canine threat, the Flying Spaghetti Monster will become more furious. As you can see [venganza.org], natural weather disasters, globl warming, etc are all DIRECTLY related to the number of pirates (FSM's chosen Missionaries) in the world. If more begin disappearing, we're all doomed! We must stand as one and oppose his nefarious threat to our existence.
  • I guess since dogs are used to licking *ssholes, they are a natural choice for the movie and record industries to befriend. [Did I go to far?]
    • Hey ! Why do you insult the canines? They lick only other canines' ass, unlike MPAA who lick [y]our congressmen's ass plus britneys ass.
  • Just shred some coaster CDs, and sprinkle them in shipments. That oughta yield enough false positives to clog the system...
  • Did they train the dog to read the manifest?
  • I guess now I'll have to wrap my shipped pirate discs in bags of cocaine.
  • Dogs love me 'cause I'm crazy sniffable...

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