VSDA Lines Up Against File Traders15 Sep, 2003 By: Jessica Wolf
The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) last week came out on the side of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the wake of that organization's first wave of civil lawsuits against prolific music file traders under the federal No Electronic Theft Law.
The VSDA statement expressed regret that an industry would have to resort to suing its own consumers, but ultimately upheld the idea that copyright holders must use the law to protect themselves against piracy.
“Any form of video piracy -- illegal file-sharing or illegally duplicated tapes and DVDs -- harms the creators of the works, the copyright holders, and most immediately, retailers,” said VSDA president Bo Andersen. “And online piracy, because of the ease with which millions of copies can be transmitted around the globe, is a particularly grave threat to everyone in the home video industry. If online piracy is allowed to go unchallenged, the financial health of video retailers as well as the motion picture studios will be endangered, which in turn will undermine their ability to provide consumers with the movies they enjoy. Therefore, VSDA, as the representative of the home video industry, stands united with copyright holders in the fight against this pernicious form of piracy.”
The RIAA began its legal barrage against 261 music downloaders Sept. 8, with suits aimed at major offenders -- those who have illegally downloaded more than 1,000 copyrighted music files each on home computers from peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa and Grokster. Violation fees range from $750 to $150,000 per song. Recouped money will not go to recording artists, but will help to further fund RIAA enforcement campaigns, according to reports.
The RIAA sent letters with settlement contact information to those sued, and about 10 suits were settled for around $3,000 by the middle of the week.
The RIAA is also offering legal amnesty to file-traders who willingly identify themselves and vow (in the form of a notarized letter) to stop downloading.
The RIAA also has the backing of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), which issued a statement supporting the lawsuits.