George Ziemann with some interesting history:
- Eastman Kodak agreed to sell filmstock only to authorised producers. The MPPC took over all but one of America’s film distributors. The courts upheld Edison’s claims that most of the film cameras in use infringed his patents. Then Edison got too pushy. The MPPC had detectives and strong-arm men who would go out hunting for infringing activity. Pretty soon, there was a constant battle going on, both in and outside of the court system.
Does this sound familiar? It ought to. Here it is, 95 years later, and Edison’s recording industry, which he created even before the movie business, is poised on the verge of falling victim to the exact same consequences of the exact same actions that brought an end to the MPPC.
….Fortunately for Edison, he had begun working on a recording disc in 1910, because his movie business was about to fall apart. By the time the U.S. government brought anti-trust charges against the MPPC in 1912, it was already too late anyway. The independents had begun to reform and redefine the industry themselves. By the time the courts found that the MPPC had acted as a monopoly by restraining trade, the independents had already broken the monopoly anyway.
Even though Edison had invented the process, defined it, set the standards and had every legal right to control his monopoly, he went over the line by preventing others from making his inventions better, stopping variations on the theme and systematically eliminating the competition by taking away their supply.
So just for good measure, the courts ordered the MPPC to be “disintegrated.” As Aberdeen phrases it, “The Edison monopoly had taken a retrogressive stance to the innovative industry reforms introduced by the outlaws.”
….This is exactly what has happened in the recording industry in the past 3 years — a retrogressive stance to innovative industry reforms introduced by anyone except the RIAA members. Just like Edison’s patents, the RIAA has pooled their copyrights in restraint of trade.
And just like Edison’s Movie Monopoly, the court is going to disintegrate it sooner or later, but not until the independents have already broken the monopoly. We like production, too. The recording industry better invent something new real fast, because anyone can do what they’re trying to charge consumers for now. In our garage. In our living room. In our underwear.