Record #131

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Karl W. Kirchwey
Courtland Smith, President of the American Press Association
Reel 1
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Uniform Contract

Response to criticism of the Uniform Contract which came to the Film Daily from the Minnesota Theatre Owners Association, especially charges that since exhibitors cannot modify movies they could become vehicles of propaganda and advertising.Proposal for a Code of Business Ethics. More in Transcription MPPDA 131 which claims it was already adopted by 02-15-1923.


Advertising (20), Codes of ethics (3), Exhibition - independent (7), Uniform contract (62) Show all keywords…



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UNIFORM CONTRACT. 1923. MEMO, KIRCHWEY TO COURTLAND SMITH, CONCERNING THE POTENTIAL OF MOVIES AS VEHICLES OF ADVERTISING AND PROPAGANDA, 02-15-1923: "MOTION PICTURE PRODUCERS & DISTRIBUTORS OF AMERICA, INC.o Article TWELFTH of the Uniform Exhibition Contract. The criticism has been made that Article TWELFTH, in requiring the exhibitor to run photoplays as delivered without alteration except with the approval of the distributor and subject to requirements of competent public authorities, would have the effect of enabling the Hays organization to use the motion picture photoplays produced and distributed by its members as vehicles of advertising and propaganda, and that the exhibitor would have no recourse against such a practice. The answer to this contention is three-fold.In the first place the Hays organization has no control whatever over the subject matter of the photoplays produced or handled by its members. It has at most an advisory power (never yet exercised) as to subjects which it might deem offensive to public taste or otherwise inappropriate for treatment upon the screen. This power of course is purely negative. It has not even the right to suggest to its members what matters "shallo be treated upon the screen or included in photoplays or news reels produced and distributed by its members.In the second place, the clause in the uniform contract complained of is nothing new; on the contrary, it is less drastic than the clause to the same effect which was a part of the exhibition contracts used by all the national distributors before the uniform contract was even thought of. The retention of the clause in its present form was deemed absolutely necessary to protect producers and distributors from unwarranted cutting of their product by exhibitors, perhaps for no better reason than to shorten their programs, to the detriment of the dramatic or narrative continuity of the piece, and perhaps in violation of obligations assumed by the producers towards artists, directors and authors. Finally, the very danger which certain exhibitors seem to fear was provided against by the Code of Ethics, adopted by the Hays organization as part of the plan which includes the uniform contract. This code of ethics contains the following provision: "No paid advertising should be inserted in any feature picture, comedy, scenic or news reel." The only reason why this provision was not included in the uniform contract was that it was feared by several producers and distributors that some exhibitors would make it an excuse for cutting or even rejecting pictures by claiming that any portrayal of or reference to a well known article of commerce contained therein was paid advertising and therefore in violation of the contract. KARL W KIRCHWEY, Counsel February 15, 1923

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