BOOTLEG FILES 694: “La vie et la passion de Jésus Christ” (1903 French Biblical epic).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On a 2012 commercial DVD release.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It is now a public domain work, but it wasn’t always.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It was included on a commercial DVD label, but its groundbreaking role in the fight against film bootlegging is why it is included here.
In the early years of the 20th century, the motion picture industry was plagued with incessant bootlegging of films. Shady characters who passed themselves off as producers and distributors would obtain copies of films and claim it as their own property, selling prints to unsuspecting exhibitors that were unaware of the original source material. This was particularly problematic with European filmmakers who did not have a U.S. sales presence and, thus, could not defend their property across the Atlantic.