PETA accused of exploiting filmmakers
Scenes from the 1982 documentary 'The Animals Film' have been widely used by animal rights organizations like PETA.
Mon, Oct 18, 2010 at 01:20 AM
CONTROVERSIAL: PETA has created confrontational spots featuring celebrities and nearly naked supermodels. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
LOS ANGELES - Few organizations have created more hot viral videos on the Web than People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The animal rights group has created confrontational spots featuring celebrities, disrobing supermodels and consumer brand products under ambush. In many of these videos, a bit of eye-candy is delivered with some hard medicine. For example, in PETA's famous spot, "State of the Union Undress," a woman talks about animal cruelty while taking off her clothes, before a montage of animal brutality is shown to the viewer, such as beaks being removed from chickens.
But where does PETA get these nasty images? One would hardly expect the group to participate in the activity it deems repellant, right? Here is a partial answer.
In 1982, Victor Schonfeld and Myriam Alaux created a controversial and critically acclaimed feature documentary, "The Animals Film," narrated by actress Julie Christie, about the exploitation of animals. The documentary is widely credited for raising awareness about animal cruelty. Since then, animal rights organizations including PETA have been using some of the film's scenes.
In September, the rights-holder of the films, Beyond the Frame Ltd, wrote to PETA, angry about the group's alleged exploitation of the "Animals" film.
Beyond the Frame pointed to several PETA videos that used scenes from its film and encouraged users on YouTube to share the videos. The film company was also upset that scenes were used in an HBO documentary produced in 2007 by PETA entitled, "I am an Animal; the Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA."
The letter included a draft of a lawsuit that was to be filed in the U.K., threats of another lawsuit in the U.S., and demands for compensation.
According to the letter, "Our client would have been very reluctant to grant a license to your client/PETA Inc given Mr. Schonfeld's well-publicized views about PETA and its sexualized efforts to attract publicity. In the circumstances, had it been prepared to grant a license, it would have charged a substantial premium."
The letter states that the license fee charged would be on a per-minute basis, similar to the top rates charged by top independent film companies. Sony Pictures Classics is cited as charging between 50,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds ($80,000 to $160,000) per minute for worldwide Internet rights.
PETA's offer of 8,000 pounds ($12,800) was rejected. Schonfeld wanted 470,000 pounds ($750,000).
PETA has responded by asking a California federal judge for a declaratory judgment that it has not infringed on copyright. The group also wants a permanent injunction prohibiting Beyond the Frame from publicly charging that PETA has infringed a copyright.
Both parties abhor animal cruelty, but they will soon be fighting to the bone against each other in court.
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