Ask any historian, and they will tell you that the first time something important happens, we often don’t know how important it is, and that make proper documentation for posterity a hit-or-miss situation. The US copyright office is part of the Library Of Congress. They have known for quite some time that their earliest record of a motion picture copyright was in 1893. But since no movie had been copyrighted before, there was nothing in the surviving documentation to show what movie it was. The copyright was for “Kinetoscopic Records.” But was that the title of the film? What was the movie about? Did it still exist?
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Film scholar Claudy Op den Kamp finally solved that mystery in 2022 by painstakingly searching through boxes and boxes of records. One envelope held they key: the first copyrighted movie was Edison’s The Blacksmith Shop, shown above. It was filmed by W.K.L. Dickson, the head photographer at Edison’s studio. The story of that film, how and why it was copyrighted, and how the mystery was solved is told at the Library of Congress blog. -via Strange Company