Paper Print Rolls

Prior to 1912, producers copyrighted motion pictures by submitting them to the U.S. Copyright Office in the form of paper rollsócontact prints made on photographic paper from original negatives. Up until 1950, both negatives and positive prints for distribution were made on nitrate-based film, which is highly flammable and deteriorates rapidly. Ironically, then, while the nitrate prints of thousands of films have disappeared, paper-based photographs have survived in fairly good condition. The Paper Print Collection of the Library of Congress holds approximately 3,000 titles, all of which have been transferred to 16mm safety-stock film.

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