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Pre-Hays Code Films: An Open Environment That Never Returned?

The student paper of Washington University in St. Louis has a list of pre-Hays Code films that may be worth a look. I don’t know whether all the films are worth seeing nor do I necessarily agree with the author’s characterization of why the films matter. I do, however, think that the article makes a basic point of some worth. People have wanted to display sex, violence, the bizzarre, and at times the interrelation of those for a long time. Frank’s post about the film This Film Is Not Yet Rated noted how the film investigated the current MPAA system and whether it really opens up the kind of films we get to see or not. (I just saw the film, and I too think it has much to offer). Frank was looking at the IP angle and how it may be that Valenti used an ongoing relationship with Congress regarding content to slowly advance copyright interests.

I think the MPAA may also be a case study to consider for some work that Brett Frischmann, Mike Madison, Joseph Miller, and Katherine Strandberg have begun on the nature of pooling, IP rights, and culture. In other words, the MPAA may show that a negative effect can occur from pooling. What the paper (I think) seeks to investigate is both the positive and negative effects pooling can have. Indeed it acknowledges that antitrust is a way to address these problems but that antitrust often has trouble distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate arrangements. Thus if the project succeeds, it could offer some metrics to help determine whether a pooling system in question is having beneficial or detrimental effects. The ability to aid in such a determination could have many uses, and I think it could help determine when a pool should be sought and when it should be dismantled. For it may be that pools work well at some points in a technology or industry’s growth but not so well in others. I am still mulling the ideas these folks have offered so my apologies if I am missing some of the nuances in the paper. For that matter, Mike and Brett, please expand on this post as needed and/or when your are ready. The project is most interesting, and I for one would love to learn more.   

Hat Tip: IMDB for the Hays Code article.