Monday, March 07, 2005

Inventor Video Rentals Dead

The inventor of the video rental system, George Atkinson, has passed away last week, as reported today. Apparently the entertainment industry did not only try to prohibit the VCR, but also the renting of the movies that played on it. That's two of the industry's current cash cows almost strangled with its own hands. From the news report:
In the Fall of 1977, George Atkinson bought one Betamax and one VHS copy of each of the first 50 movie titles that were then being sold to the public. Announcing the availability of the videos for rent in a one-column-inch ad in the Los Angeles Times in December 1977, Atkinson launched the first video rental store, Video Station, a 600-square-foot storefront on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. In order to raise capital, Atkinson charged $50 for an "annual membership" and $100 for a "lifetime membership," which provided the opportunity to rent the videos for $10 a day. Atkinson was soon threatened with a lawsuit for renting the videos, but discovered that U.S. copyright law gave him the right to rent and resell videos he owned.

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