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History And Function Of The Motion Picture Patents Company (Mppc)

1681 words - 7 pages

American film began with Thomas Edison who “envisioned a kind of ‘coin-operated/entertainment machine’ in which motion pictures made by the Kinetograph would illustrate the sound from the phonograph.”(Cook 8) He owned a studio called “Black Maria” in New Jersey. In 1894, Edison named his company the Edison Manufacturing Company. When WKL Dickson started his company, the Biograph, he started the patents war simultaneously. Before the Biograph was formed, Edison and his company were successfully dominated the motion picture field. Even the Lumiere brothers came to the U.S. with their cinematograph, Edison found it easy to keep his dominance power. Domestic competitions were happened very soon after the success of Edison. The first competitor was Biograph Company. This was a special case with Dickson because he had worked with Edison to create the Kinetograph, a 35mm camera, and he knew how to challenge Edison. Moreover, he created a different camera called Mutoscope which could shot 70 mm film. Besides, as the demand of the market was exceeded the supply, this also induced the competition. Nevertheless, with the set up of Vitagraph by Stauart Blackson, competition between these three major studios became more serious. Even Edison filed over twenty lawsuits to confront these challenges, he was failed to bring an end to these new companies. It was dramatically hard for Edison to file lawsuit on Biograph, for Dickson was his former employer and remained a great threat to his company. After that, many smaller companies emerged to the market, increasing the competition. By then, Edison strongly felt the need to remain the dominated power, so he introduced the MPPC. Subsequently, Edison and Biograph companies formed The Motion Picture Patents Company, also known as the Trust, on December 18, 1908, a protective trade association to stop the internecine war and to protect the copyright.
In order to be the dominance monopoly of the film market, Edison, Biograph, Vitagraph, Essanay, Kalem, Selig Polyscope, Lubin, Star Film, Pathe Freres, and Kleine Optical worked together to pool U.S. patents for motion picture technology by signing a MPPC Agreements and assigning their patents to MPPC to receive certain degree of guarantee of licensing. Agreements were made with the moving picture manufacturers and importers, exhibitors, and projector manufacturers under the patents control of MPPC; therefore, with the establishment of MPPC, other European firms were relatively too weak to confront such powerful association. With this legal monopoly, these companies were not afraid of competition. Under MPPC's agreement, the distribution of any films without the permission of MPPC was officially illegal, for MPPC has the rights to every film and camera on the market. MPPC agreements were to concentrate the power in the hands of the film producers and importers. Later, MPPC signed a contract with Eastman Kodak on January 1st for the supply of raw film stock. Under this...

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