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Historians have well documented the decline of illustrated songs in nickelodeons in the United States from 1909 to 1913. In this article, a close examination of the 1907 and 1908 issues of Moving Picture World shows that several crises occurred before 1909 that help us understand this decline. Here I examine three main crises: the structural crisis of free music, the economic and aesthetic crisis of piracy, and the legal dispute over exclusive illustration rights.doi:10.2979/filmhistory.32.1.04 fatcat:oz6dc5i52jdbnjxbld3phhmmmu