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East Coast Video Show: VSDA Leaders Urge a Return to 'Business As Usual'... As Soon As Possible

9 Oct, 2001 By: Anne Sherber

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Return to “business as usual” as soon as possible despite lingering effects of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) chairman Tom Warren and president Bo Anderson urged about 250 video retailers gathered for the opening business session of the East Coast Video Show Tuesday.

Various trade sources reported an uptick in video rental activity in the days following the attacks, but Anderson and at least one retailer, John Tartaglia, buyer for Philadelphia-based Movies Unlimited, said there is little change in business volume from last year.

Anderson reassured and cautioned retailers at the same time about emerging technology’s threat to the packaged video industry.

On one hand, he noted, newly cautious investors are not inclined to fund new broadband delivery intiatives and the cost of DSL, T-1 lines and cable modems are unlikely to drop in a recession. The technologies deliver movies to computer terminals, which lack the high-end sound and picture systems to which many end users have grown accustomed.

On the other hand, studios have declared their intent to cut retail out of the movie delivery equation and the video industry is preparing to do battle in defense of the First Sale Doctrine, Anderson said.

“It's apparent that we will have to fight for the right of retail to sell this product,” he said.

Though he believes the threat to retailers is “overreaching by the copyright holders,” the debate is under way. Retailers in Australia, he noted, are awaiting a court decision that will determine whether they can rent DVDs purchased from discount retailers.

Studios have made the battleground the copyright for the computer programming that enables DVDs to play, rather than the copyrights for the movies themselves.

Although final show attendance figures will not be available until Thursday, preregistration is in line with last year's numbers, according to Carrie Dietrich, VSDA's v.p. of marketing.

VSDA chairman Tom Warren opened the show with a call for rentailers to get involved in collecting donations for relief efforts.

Delaware-based video retailer Victor Esch, who has also been a firefighter since 1974, recently joined rescue and recovery efforts at both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He joined Warren to encourage retailers to participate in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Boot Drive, in which the IAFF provides participating retail outlets with a surplus firefighter's boot with which retailers can collect contributions from their customers. Esch noted that 100% of the funds collected are distributed to the survivors of the firefighters who lost their lives in the disaster.

“Customers come to our stores seeking diversion but they don't want to feel guilty about it,” VSDA president Bo Anderson told retailers. “We can offer them the opportunity to make a contribution and help, symbolically, to clean up the rubble.” Retailers interested in participating in the drive may call 302/226-3660.

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East Coast Video Show

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