LAS VEGAS -- While the video industry continued to grow last year, it faces a threat from movie piracy and a challenge in a looming format war over the successor to DVD, said Bo Andersen, president, Video Software Dealers Association, Encino, Calif., during the group's Home Entertainment 2005 convention late last month.
"First, the risk to our future from downloading from the Internet is real and explosive. Second, the risk to our industry in 2005 is the certainty of slowed growth -- growth that is capped by a proliferation of illegal copies on the Internet and perfect copies sold by street vendors and at your local flea markets," he said.
Andersen noted that although he, and many in the industry, continue to use the term "piracy," it is "shorthand" and the "wrong word" -- he said it is better referred to as "stealing." "This activity is not a cavalier, swashbuckling, smirk-at-the-immorality-of-it kind of thing. It is stealing, and it is stealing the college tuition in your children's future," he told the convention.
VSDA is providing advertising aimed at discouraging illegal downloading, he said. The trade group also has been active with the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theatre Owners to obtain laws banning the camcording of movies in theaters.
"This will be a continuing challenge for VSDA and for Congress. We need new rules, and nuanced rules, for a digital age. We cannot have an Internet that becomes a free-for-all goodie bag of commercial immorality."
Andersen noted that despite reports that the video industry was in the doldrums, it grew by 8.5% last year, with sell-through growing by 15%, and consumer spending on packaged home video exceeding $24 billion for the year.
"Perhaps only in modern times, when everything moves at the speed of electrons, does an industry worry when its rate of growth slows from a historic pace to merely a rate of growth that other industries would be delighted with," he said.
On the dueling disc formats Blu-ray and HD DVD, he said, "two high-definition DVD formats are planned for release to the market. The launch of a single format is unquestionably preferable to a 'format war' that could cause consumer confusion and lead to a reluctance to embrace either format."