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Dogs force Malaysia's movie pirates to turn to porn to bolster battered sales

Malaysia's movie bootleggers are selling more pornography to offset financial losses following a government crackdown using two Labradors that have found huge stashes of pirated DVDs, officials said Monday.

Pornographic discs, including some featuring underaged girls, comprised nearly a quarter of some 180,000 illegal DVDs found in raids over the past four days in southern Johor state, said Fahmi Kassim, chief enforcement officer at Johor's domestic trade ministry.

"The pirates make more money selling pornographic discs," Fahmi told The Associated Press.

A pirated DVD sells for about 10 ringgit (US$2.80; EUR2.00), but pornographic movies - which are not all pirated - can fetch at least 3 ringgit (US$0.85; EUR0.60) more, Fahmi said.

The crackdowns in Johor included one in a shopping mall Friday with the help of sniffer dogs Lucky and Flo, owned by the Motion Picture Association of America, which has called them the first canines trained to detect optical discs.

The pornographic discs found in Johor - which attracts many pirated DVD buyers from neighboring Singapore - mostly originated in the United States and Europe, but some included Chinese and other Asian-looking actresses, Fahmi said.

Pirated DVD sellers in Malaysia have long included pornographic discs in their wares, but industry officials voiced concerns that recent raids have shown a rising presence of smut.

"What is disturbing is this growing proof that the piracy syndicates are working with the pornographic industry, especially when the seized items now include child pornography," said Neil Gane, senior operations executive of the MPAA.

Lucky and Flo, on loan to the Southeast Asian country since March 13, have so far helped authorities find 1.3 million pirated DVDs - often hidden in locked rooms and secret compartments - in stores and office buildings in three Malaysian states.

Their success has led officials to extend their stint in Malaysia indefinitely and to consider setting up a local canine unit to strengthen anti-piracy efforts.

"Certainly the help of the dogs has made our jobs easier and quicker," Fahmi said.

Malaysia is among the world's main producers and exporters of pirated discs, the U.S. government and the MPAA have said. According to the Malaysian government, 5 million discs were seized in more than 2,000 raids nationwide last year, and 780 people were arrested.

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