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it-where a bill is offered which will result in the utter destruction of their property, there will be a uniformity of action in appearing before legislative committees and otherwise striving for their mutual protection. It does not embrace any syndicate or anything of that kind.
Senator BRANDEGEE. Does it embrace the people who own the thea ters, or the real estate upon which the theaters are located ?
Mr. Johnson. We have been requested by about 400 theater owners to represent them in this particular matter, because they are involved with us, under this bill.
Senator BRANDEGEE. Are they members of the association ?
Mr. Johnson. No, sir; they are not. The association is confined exclusively to the producers. I do not represent every dramatic author, nor do I represent the Dramatists Club in New York. I represent certain dramatists who turn over their productions to this association.
Senator BRANDEGEE. For which of these bodies do you speak? These different interests have their own separate representative here.
Mr. Johnson. No, sir: I am here as representing them all, because their interests are directly one dependent upon the other.
Representative CURRIER. You speak of passing a bill which takes away from them the rights they have now. What bill so takes away from them any rights they have now?
Mr. Johnson. The situation is just this. I believe it is clearly the intent under the existing bill to protect the surreptitious taking of a play and producing it
Representative CURRIER. Do you say the purpose is to do that? Mr. Johnson. I should have said the effect of the bill, not the pur
Representative CURRIER. Is there anything in the bill which permits them to do that, or which changes the situation at all!
Mr. JOHNSON. No; this condition has arisen since the last bill was passed, and if no remedy is now provided by the bill, the presumption is that we are to be denied that right.
Representative CURRIER. Suppose that both of the committees in their reports, which the Supreme Court would have before them as well as the bill, should state that this matter came in so late that the other side was not represented and that the development of this subject had not gone far enough to make it absolutely certain that their interests were imperiled, and should suggest that the subject go over to the next session, it would remove your objection that the court might assume we intended to sanction it?
Mr. Johnson. No; the situation is simply this: These people will contend that the bill is to protect their piracy, and under existing circumstances there is no machinery provided by which we may obtain any relief.
Representative CURRIER. But your statement was that we were passing a bill which would take away rights.
The CHAIRMAN. As a matter of fact, are you not here arguing for additional rights?
Mr. Johnson. I am unquestionably here asking that we be given relief from this condition of affairs.
The CHAIRMAN. Your time has expired. We will hear Mr. Brady.
pose of it.
STATEMENT OF MR. WILLIAM A. BRADY, OF NEW YORK
CITY, N. Y. Mr. Brady. Mr. Chairman, I want to answer a question put to the prior speaker by one of the gentlemen of the committee. I desire to say that he represents the National Association of Producing Managers, which is an association composed of nearly every man in every class of producing for the theaters. This association is largely formed of men who produce for the theater, men who take the original plays and produce them, and the association was formed for mutual protection against any abuses that might arise.
Senator BRANDEGEE. What do you mean by taking an original play and producing it?
Mr. Brady. The producer buys from an author a play, the raw manuscript, and he buys the scenery, and gets the actors, and guarantees
Senator BRANDEGEE. What you mean is that he puts it on the stage?
Mr. Brady. No; I am going to tell you what I mean. He is forced to buy pictorial printing, sometimes to the extent of $30,000, $10,000, or $50,000. To secure that printing of lithographs it is necessary for him to guarantee the printing house that he will use a certain amount of it. He employs actors, paints scenery, engages stage managers, and, in many instances, is forced to rent a New York theater and run that play at a money loss in order to give it what is popularly known as a New York reputation.
In twenty years I have probably produced 75 to 100 plays by American authors. A good play, one that is alive, one that makes a great deal of money, comes to a producing manager probably once in a lifetime. I employ about 250 to 350 actors and actresses of the dramatic kind. I am a dramatic producer. Their salaries range from $350 a week down to $25 a week. I call your attention to plays of the character of the Old Homestead, Ben Hur, Way Down East, and The Lion and the Mouse. Those are plays that have had a long life. In my play called Way Down East, it was necessary to run for seven months in New York City at a loss before it gained the universal public attention. It has lived for ten or fifteen years. That play is now being produced throughout the United States by the aid of moving pictures. They secured my play for the small sum of $5 from a man named Byers in Chicago and it is being produced by a member of this trust that Mr. Johnson just spoke about. They propose to go on further with it, by the aid of a phonographic attachment, and produce all the popular plays that are owned by private persons throughout the United States.
My play, Way Down East, is now being printed on films at the rate of from 100 to 200 copies a week by a company which is a member of this trust in Chicago, and yesterday one of my companies, composed of 35 people, men and women, was forced off the road and sent back to New York. They never can play again, because in almost every one-night stand in this country Way Down East is being presented on every street corner, presented from a stolen manuscript by a man who went into one of our theaters and took down a copy of our play and sold it to this disreputable picture firm, who is now destroying my property.
Representative CURRIER. That play has never been published.
Mr. Brady. Never. I am going now to tell you some facts and I am here to answer questions. I have been trying for twenty years to stop this piracy of plays. There is no law which gives us the right to go into the office of Mr. Alexander Byers in Chicago and take possession of manuscripts which he has stolen from us. We have tried it again and again; but we can not stop it.
What does it cost a man to make one of these reproductions. He takes a store and puts a $400 front in it, has a sheet in the back part of the building, puts in a machine for $100, buys a film for $20 à week, deceives the people by stating that he is producing my play, and the people pay 5 cents to see it. When my play comes along they say: " Î have seen that for 5 cents and I don't want to see that play now. Why should I give a dollar to see that?"
The CHAIRMAN. What do you mean by “ deceiving the people!”
Mr. Brady. Sometimes there are three or four companies playing this piece on the road. We go into a town and give an order for $50, or $75, or $100 worth of lithographic printing. This man in Chicago will write to the different lithographers and bill distributers throughout the country and obtain through those men the paper we supply for advertising our production. They accumulate that in Chicago and sell it to these picture sharps, and they put out the actual printing that we use to advertise our play in every little theater and then persuade or deceive the people into the belief that they are presenting for 5 cents the real article, for which I am, in fact, paying 5 or 10 per cent of the gross receipts to the author.
The CHAIRMAN. Simply for my own information, I want to ask you a question. In my own home town we have these 5-cent show places of which you speak, and I do not believe that people go there to see Way Down East and then come out and say, if a theatrical company came along, that they had already seen Way Down East played by a company. I want to be absolutely fair with you, and I want you to be absolutely fair with this committee.
Mr. BRADY. I will be absolutely fair.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not think that any reasonable man would say, or that any citizen of the United States would ever think for one minute, that a reproduction as given by these nickelodeon houses is a reproduction that would satisfy him of Way Down East or any other play.
Mr. Brady. And I answer you, in all fairness, with facts. We can not dispute the facts. The company that has been playing Way Down East in the Middle West, where it is surrounded by these picture show places, played the other night to a house of $127, whereas, before this, they have never played to less than $700 a night.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, let us come right down to the facts. Is it not true that every play going in the West, under the conditions existing to-day, is not playing to the houses that they did play to a year or two years or three years ago?
Mr. BRADY. No, sir; it is not so, because we have another play in the same territory, called “ The Man of the Hour,” which they have not yet had time to steal, and that is playing to the capacity of the theater.
The CHAIRMAN. But one is a play that has been before the public for ten years, and the other is a new play.
Mr. BRADY. But this play I am referring to has never declined at all, until this picture business came up.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not want to take any more of your time, because it is nearly up; so I will not interrupt you again.
Mr. Brady. In answer to my promise to give you the facts, I submit to you the advertisement of one of the gentlemen in the trust
Representative CURRIER. I think we have all seen that.
Mr. BRADY. Here is an advertisement of a 5 cent Merry Widow play; and I can produce some advertisements of my own play.
The CHAIRMAN. I suggest that you incorporate those in the record. Representative LEGARE. Are those advertisements copyrighted ?
Mr. Brady. In some cases. The Strowbridge Company of Cincinnati, in some cases, copyright their advertisements.
Representative LEGARE. How can we stop this, if you do not copyright them?
Mr. BRADY. If they can steal our printing, they can steal our watch. What we want to do is to stop the reproduction of our original plays, to protect our thought, to protect our work from reproduction in a picture machine and sending it throughout the country, thus depriving us of the value of our work.
Representative LEAKE. In other words, you do not wish to have a picture concern have the right to reproduce your play any more than a set of actors would have the right to act your play in another theater.
Mr. BRADY. That is our contention, in a word. I listended a moment ago to a suggestion by Mr. Currier that this thing should be postponed until the next session of Congress. Believe me, our case is desperate. You have no idea how desperate it is. If this thing is not stopped it means ruin for us and for the men who write for the stage. I could quote to you, if I were allowed to do so, a hundred cases where it would mean great loss and injury.
We do not object to these picture shops, as such. I know three or four picture concerns who do not use our property. It is a good thing to show the people pictures of Switzerland and let them go in for 5 cents when they can not afford a dollar to see a play. They are grow. ing in development and are just beginning; but do not let them steal our property. If they want plays let them do the same as the French manufacturer does. He hires his authors to write for his machines, and he pays them. If they want to use our property let them pay us for it.
Representative CURRIER. Without expressing any opinion, and asking simply for information, I want to know whether you would be satisfied with a provision in this law which would apply simply to unpublished plays that were surreptitiously obtained.
Mr. BRADY. Absolutely—the protection of what we come here to Washington and copyright. That is all we ask for. You have a copyright law and after we have deposited our books here you guarantee us protection, and then do not protect us.
Representative Pratt. It is the adult audience which supports the theater, is it not?
Mr. BRADY. No, sir; the women support the theater.
Representative Pratr. The women are not the principal patrons of the nickel-in-the-slot places?
Mr. Brady. But I am not protesting against the nickel-in-the-slot places.
Representative Currier. He means the nickel theaters.
Mr. Brady. The nickel theater is largely supported by women and children, who are the patrons of the balcony and the gallery. Mr. Frohman will probably tell you that since the coming of these picture shops the gallery and balcony receipts have fallen off to almost nothing; but we do not object to the legitimate competition from these places.
Representative CURRIER. Such plays as you speak of, the unpublished plays, are never multiplied, and it is impossible for you to receive any royalty except from the production of the play:
Mr. BRADY. Some men, like Bernard Shaw, publish their plays and get a royalty.
Representative CURRIER. Do you not think there should be a difference between the published and the unpublished play?
Mr. Brady. I absolutely do. We will not publish our line, and if you will grant us what we want we will grant to you, or to anybody who is fool enough to publish his plays, the right to do it, and let him protect himself.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, if he is protected once that is enough?
Mr. Brady. It is enough. Now, I wish to call your very particular attention to France, a place where the moving-picture industry employs the best and most expensive authors in the land to write for their picture machines. They never use any of the protected plays in France without paying the author a royalty for the use of them, if he will allow them to use the play.
I want also to call your attention to another thing. There are suitable theaters going up everywhere. You know that there are magnificent temples being built for theatrical uses, which represent the
investment of a lot of money.
I also want to call your attention to the fact that, under the increased cost of labor, of materials, and in the salary of actors, etc., the expense of running an ordinary company now averages $2,500 a week and some of them run to $5,000 or $6,000. Of that sum probably one-half goes to the actors and the rest go to the railroad companies, to the newspapers, to the stage hands, to the bill posters, and to all sorts of people who are benefited by our trade.
The CHAIRMAN. Your time was extended five minutes, but your fifteen minutes are now up. Before proceeding further I want to say that I do not think it will influence the committee in any way, shape, or form to have any demonstration in the way of applause. What we want is a statement of the facts. So it will be well to let the man who is speaking say what he wishes to say and make what impression he makes upon the committee by his words, and not by any attempted demonstration from the outside.
We will now hear Mr. Parker.