Administrative History

The Joint Legislative Committee to Investigate the Moving Picture Industry was created by a concurrent legislative resolution in 1917 to ascertain the appropriateness of subjecting the moving picture industry to state taxation, and if so, the kind and amount of taxes to be imposed. At the time of this work the industry was of comparatively recent development and run primarily by corporations having offices in New York City, making large profits but paying a small amount in state taxes. The committee estimated that the average daily attendance at motion picture theaters in New York State was about one million.

The committee investigated three branches of the industry: producing, distributing, and exhibiting. It filed its reports in 1917. Recommendations included postponement of special taxation on the industry, as well as the whole amusement field (theater and opera), until the conclusion of World War I; establishment of a bureau to license persons, corporations, and associations engaged in the production, distribution, or exhibition of motion pictures and to regulate the "character" of pictures; and legislation making the theft, mutilation, or destruction of films, film apparatus or devices cause for the cancellation of a license.