Epic Fails of History #4

Alright, so here's the story: in the early 1900s, Thomas Edison's MPPC (Motion Picture Patents Company) owned pretty much every patent there was regarding film making technology, and anyone who wanted to make a movie on the East Coast of the US had to license the equipment from them. They even owned the patent for the teeny holes on the edges of the film roll.

They monopolised film, and enforced their patents by any means, including a stupid amount of lawsuits (289 against Carl Lemmle alone. By the way, Carl Lemmle is the founder of Universal Pictures.) and hired thugs who broke yo' knees and set fire to your studio and/or cinema and/or you.
So, many movie makers fled to California, where they were out of the MPPC's reach.

Of course, that was not the only reason for the move to the West Coast. The climate was better and the land was cheaper.

As for the Motion Picture Patent Trolls, they were issued a gigantic "Fuck you and your rich faces" by the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania and the US Supreme Court in 1916 and 1917, who ruled they were using their patents abusively and suspended them. The Co. closed down in 1918 for good.

All in all, it's funny how Hollywood flourished through piracy. Makes you think.

John Higgs, Stranger than we can imagine. Making sense of the Twentieth Century, 2015, Chapter 7

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