Monday, January 09, 2006

Thirteen ways of looking at a gorilla

William Patry looks at the history of Ingagi, the "gorilla 'sex'" film that preceded RKO's King Kong and sees a copyright issue: the effect of prior sacrifice-a-girl-to-a-gorilla stories on the inevitable copyright infringement suits that attend successful films. (I learned about such suits as, "where there's a hit, there's a writ.") When I read the LA Times story, however, I was struck by Ingagi's role in the history of advertising law. Though widely denounced (and enjoyed) for its salacious exploitation of nudity in exotic Africa, what ultimately allowed legal action against the film's exhibition was the fact that it was falsely promoted as "authentic" when it was really made from stock footage and Hollywood locations. But the FTC didn't act until three years had passed, and it's not clear that audiences cared about authenticity as long as they got to see sex and violence.

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