Friday, April 04, 2008

Early movie busniess(2): Edison's monopoly

At the time of the formation of the MPPC, Thomas Edison owned most of the major patents relating to motion pictures. In 1908, Edison allied with seven other major film companies (Biograph, Vitagraph, Essanay, Selig, Lubin, Kalem, American Star and American Pathe) to found MPPC, the Motion Picture Patents Company. It was “designed to bring stability to the chaotic early film years characterized by patent wars and litigation. It was actual a trust, or monopoly of the early film industry.

According to Starr, “the lawsuits brought by Edison Manufacturing were discouraging other production companies from making the investments needed for expansion, while Edison itself used its facilities to make more prints of its movies rather than to increase the number of new movies it made. The failure of the American movie industry to respond to rising demand fast enough created an opening for foreign filmmakers to seize a larger share of the American market.”

Another reflection of Edison’s monopoly was in the Early Motion Picture by Daniel Czitrom, “the Edison interests persuaded Armat ‘that in order to secure the largest profit in the shortest time it is necessary that we attach Mr. Edison’s name in some prominent capacity to this new machine… We should not of course misrepresent the facts to any inquirer, but we think we can use Mr. Edison’s name in such a manner as to keep with the actual truth and yet get the benefit of his prestige.’”


At 7:56 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post. Edison and the MPPC were using patent law to control the motion picture industry. These film companies limited the competition with these patents. That hurt the emerging film industry in the U.S. Starr is showing us the power of these film companies to direct the path of development of an industry.


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