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Nabbing movie pirates with night vision goggles

MPA is training Malaysian ushers to find people recording in dark theaters. DVD-sniffing labs are also finding success.

Malaysian cinemas have found a powerful weapon in their fight against movie pirates--military-style night vision goggles.

After showing people to their seats, trained ushers are strapping on the goggles and scanning darkened cinemas around the country to spot anyone trying to make illegal copies of movies with handheld video recorders or mobile phones.

The Motion Picture Association, which is training Malaysian ushers to catch the pirates, said cinemas had caught 17 people in the past two months, during which Hollywood studios released blockbusters like Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

"All of the cases were spotted with night-vision goggles," the association's Malaysia manager, Nor Hayati Yahaya, said Friday. "It's very successful."

Malaysia is on the U.S. watch list for movie and software piracy, but local authorities have launched a major crackdown on producers and retailers of illegal DVDs since the country began free-trade talks with the United States a year ago.

The association, which represents the big Hollywood studios, recently brought to Malaysia two dogs trained to sniff out DVDs--with stunning results. The two labradors, Lucky and Flo, have sniffed out more than a million DVDs and have broken a fake DVD ring.

They have been so successful that authorities believe that Malaysian pirates have put a bounty on the dogs' heads.