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STATEMENT OF MR. HARRY DOEL PARKER, OF NEW YORK
CITY, N. Y.
Mr. PARKER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am a member of the National Association of Producing Managers. I control and exploit only one play, by the same author as Way Down East.
Representative LEAKE. What is the name of that play?
Mr. PARKER. “Under Southern Skies." Mr. Johnson has stated that there are 100,000 people directly employed in amusements. There are a great many more than that. In every theater in the United States, in the smallest one-night stands, there are at least 20 employees, and they are all dependent for their livelihood upon the success of the traveling companies.
If in this bill you give protection to the author you protect the producing manager, as their interests are identical.
In regard to reproduction by musical contrivances: If a play is produced by a musical contrivance the public gets to see it and they learn the story of the play. When they have learned the story of the play, they usually lose their desire to see the original production. It is the story of the play that brings them to the theater. As long as the play is interpreted by an average company of actors they care not who those actors are, outside of great personalities; and when you give them the story of the play behind a group of pictures they lose interest in going to see the play itself.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not think that is generally the case, do you?
Mr. PARKER. I think that is absolutely the case.
Mr. PARKER. Yes; my interest is aroused to see a play, because I want to see and hear the story of that play. That is a fundamental desire.
The CHAIRMAN. Then the company itself, whether it be poor or whether it be good, cuts no figure with -you at all. What you want to know is the story of the play?
Mr. PARKER. I refer to any play that is intelligently interpreted, no matter what is the name of the actor, unless he is one with a great personality. No one ever heard the public say, Are you going to the theater to-night to see Hamlet? but they would say, Are you going to the theater to-night to see Mr. Booth? But they do not do that when they speak of plays like The Lion and the Mouse.
Representative LEGARE. Are not most of your plays taken from popular books that have been well read and circulated?
Mr. PARKER. No, sir; they are not.
Representative LEGARE. It is oftentimes true that plays are taken from popular books.
Mr. PARKER. Not 1 per cent of the plays produced are dramatizations, and not 1 per cent of the dramatizations are a success, so that not one one-thousandth per cent of the successful productions are dramatizations. They are the result of personal effort, produced and managed by those who must be skilled in the technique of the stage, in order to produce a successful play.
Representative LEGARE. The men who have these moving picture concerns disseminate your play all over the country, so that it becomes well known, and then when your play does get to a town, it goes flat. Is that the idea ?
Mr. PARKER. The picture machine will give the story of the play to the public, so that they will know all about it, and then they will not want to go to see it.
Representative LEGARE. They know whether the hero is going to be killed or not, before your play gets there?
Mr. PARKER. They know all about it. They know whether it ends happily or not. One thing that makes a successful play is the suspense in which it holds the audience, while they are listening to it.
Representative LEGARE. You can not have any climax, if they are all known beforehand.
Mr. PARKER. There will be no climax. So far as I know, Under Southern Skies is controlled only by me. I have the exclusive contract, and so far as I know there are no films made of the play yet. I know that there are some surreptitious versions of the play. There was a company playing it in a town down South; but I could not find where they were. I got hold of a bill that was printed in one town, some two months after they were there, and I have spent a great deal of money trying to locate that piratical company.
Representative CURRIER. I suppose you know that if the gentlemen who have an interest here persist in making the maximum of demand, and refuse to yield in any way, that there is absolutely no possibility of this bill passing at this session or the next session of Congress.
Mr. PARKER. I believe we should give the author protection. I think that is the idea of a copyright law and that the idea which you gentlemen have is to protect the author's work for the author.
I have nothing more to say except that unless this bill is enacted, giving the author protection, it will entail more loss than you can understand. I am only a small manager and I exploit my play in , popular-priced theaters where the best seats and boxes are only $1, and yet I have on the shelf now, for next season, over $20,000 worth of printing, and, as in the case of Way Down East, my property would be spoiled, and would be an absolute loss to me, if my play should be stolen and produced on these machines.
I would like to just have your attention for a moment, so that I can tell you what the success of even a popular-price play means. Under Southern Skies is 7 years old and
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Parker, your time has expired, according to the schedule. We will now hear from Harry P. Mawson, who has been allotted two minutes.
STATEMENT OF MR. HARRY P. MAWSON.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, all that I desire to do is to indorse, word for word, everything that Mr. Brady has stated to this committee.
STATEMENT OF MR. DANIEL FROHMAN, OF NEW YORK
CITY, N. Y. Mr. FROHMAN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, there is no need for me to take up the time of the committee. I merely want to indorse what Mr. Johnson has stated and what Mr. Brady has given to the committee in the way of facts. I will add only one point. We know that the drama is supposed to be an educational influence in this country and that it is a good thing to popularize good plays for the benefit of the public. There is no difficulty in the way of the public who patronize the nickelodeons seeing these new plays if the same system is adopted that they now have in vogue with the cheaper grade of stock companies. After a manager has produced his play in New York and has produced it throughout the country he can dispose of the play at a reasonable royalty, and he can make an arrangement with these 5-cent theaters so that the plays can be presented there in such a way that there will be no element of loss or destruction of value for that purpose.
Representative LEGARE. Have you any evidence showing the losses sustained by any one of these companies by the reproduction of its plays in the 5-cent theaters?
Nr. FROHMAN. This system has come up so recently that I have not been able to ascertain about that. I know that my receipts in New York have suffered a great deal in the galleries from the presence of these nickel theaters, but we do not object to that legitimate competition.
Representative CURRIER. It is a threat, rather than an actual danger?
Mr. FROHMAN. Yes. Representative LEAKE. What, in your judgment, would be the effect upon the attendance at a theater if, for example, there was printed on the front page of the programme a synopsis of a play like
Way Down East " such a synopsis as they have for the opera ? Would that have a deterrent effect upon the attendance?
Mr. FROHMAN. No; not a print of the synopsis, because the synopsis of a play provokes curiosity and the performance of a play alsays curiosity. The value of such a play as “ The Lion and the Mouse” and “ The Man of the Hour" is in the character of its story. They do not go to see those plays because a particular company plays them, although they must be played adequately to give life to the production of the author; but it is the story that is of interest to the public. If that story is published by means of these pictures the curiosity of the public as to the story is entirely allayed.
STATEMENT OF MR. CHARLES KLEIN, OF ROWAYTON, CONN.
Mr. KLEIN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I wish to indorse substantially every word that has been spoken by the gentleman who preceded me, and to say that unless the author receives adequate protection from the copyright law the stimulus, energy, and moral courage that is necessary for him to have in order to sit down for a year, or two years in some cases, and write a play, will be lost. He must feel, when he has completed his work, which has taken two years of his life, that the work will belong to him. Furthermore, the right and privilege of making a contract with a manager would be lost if people can surreptitiously take his work.
Representative LEAKE. How many unsuccessful plays did you write before you got a good success and how much of your life did you spend at this work before you made a success?
Mr. Klein. I spent nine or ten years in writing plays that were ordinarily successful; but those plays were never taken by these people. The moment, however, I struck a success it was played, I think, in 30 States at one time, and the little money I got out of it I couldn't afford to spend in legal proceedings.
Representative LEAKE. What successful plays have you written? Mr. KLEIN. My modesty prevents me from telling. Representative LEAKE. I want to have that in the record.
Mr. Klein. I have written El Capitan, The Ilonorable John Grigsby, The District Attorney, The Auctioneer, The Music Master, The Lion and the Mouse, and others that I thought were more or less successful; but the managers did not.
Representative CURRIER. Did the loss which you say you sustained arise out of the fact that your plays were surreptitiously obtained, and produced by traveling dramatic companies?
Mr. KLEIN. Yes; they were travelers.
Representative CURRIER. It was not because of the moving-picture business?
Mr. Klein. The moving-picture business was not in existence. It was not thought of then.
The CHAIRMAN. Your losses were caused by the theft of your plays by traveling companies?
Mr. KLEIN. Yes.
Representative LEAKE. He can not say that, because he does not know of any loss that he can prove from moving pictures; but there may have been a loss.
The CHAIRMAN. He can state whether he thinks that is the case. Mr. Klein. I positively think that The Music Master, which is playing now at the Stuyvesant Theater in New York under the management of David Belasco, has lost money in its gallery because of a certain Fourteenth-street nickelodeon. I have not seen the performance myself, and I do not want to see it; but I understand that the gallery business has fallen off. Whether it is due to that or not, I do not know. You can draw the inference yourself.
The CHAIRMAN. If I were you I would go to that Fourteenth-street nickelodeon and see just what is presented there, so as to find out whether you really believe that the nickelodeon production of The Music Master is a representation of such a character as to keep the American public from attending a dramatic production.
Mr. KLEIN. Mr. Chairman, I do not think the class of people who go to the nickelodeon theater are capable of differentiating between a nickelodeon performance and a first-class performance. They simply see one and do not want to see the other. They are not intellectual people.
Senator BRANDEGEE. Do you think that people who pay five cents to see The Music Master in a nickelodeon would pay $2 or $2.50 to see it in a theater?
Mr. Klein. Possibly they would not pay $2, but they would pay 25 cents to go up in the gallery, and it is a dramatic axiom that the gallery is the real profit of a theater. Now, if the gallery is taken away from the manager, he has no profit.
Representative Law. Why is this Fourteenth-street nickelodeon producing The Music Master?
Mr. KLEIN. I am unable to understand why.
Representative Law. The production there would take a considerable number of people out of the half-dollar gallery, would it not?
Mr. KLEIN. Yes, sir.
Representative Law. But such competition as that you would not object to?
Mr. KLEIN. I do object to it.
Representative Law. But if they were not producing the same play, and it was only ordinary competition, you would not object !
Mr. KLEIN. I do not quite understand you.
Representative LEAKE. What he means is that all you are claiming is that you want the plays you write copyrighted and protected.
Mr. KLEIN. Yes; I want the protection. I think, of course, that the moving pictures are very interesting.
The CHAIRMAN. In other words, you and the other authors do not desire competition at all. You want to take in the gallery and every other part of it-so you want it all?
Representative LEAKE. He did not intimate that.
Mr. KLEIx. I do not want my plays stolen by parties under the guise of law.
Representative Currier. Would you not have an adequate remedy in the New York courts against that Fourteenth street place, and could you not close it at once by injunction, by proceedings in court?
Mr. Klein. I doubt it very much, because to copyright them we have to publish our plays.
Representative CURRIER. A public performance is going on there. Do you not think you could get adequate relief to-day in the New York courts?
Mr. KLEIN. I question it.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you ever taken up that question with any attorney?
Representative LEAKE. The difference there is that one is the case of a performance, whereas the other is a mere representation of a performance.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Herbert, we will hear you now, and you have been allotted ten minutes.
STATEMENT OF MR. VICTOR HERBERT, PRESIDENT OF THE
AUTHORS' AND COMPOSERS' COPYRIGHT LEAGUE OF AMERICA,
Mr. HERBERT. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I represent the Authors' and Composers' Copyright League of America, and I am also here as the representative of the American Federation of Musicians, representing 60,000 musicians. I have been asked by them to read to this committee the following letter:
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 28, 1908. Mr. VICTOR HERBERT, Washington, D. C.
DEAR Sir: We beg to advise you that you are hereby appointed and authorized to represent the American Federation of Musicians in all matters pertaining to the protection of the products of American composers.