Much of the original material for a viral video that has tugged on the heartstrings of New Yorkers in recent weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak was stolen from independent artists and filmmakers, Vice News reported Thursday.
The video containing the stolen footage garnered millions of views on social media due in large part to high-profile shares from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. It was produced and posted by Convicts, a film production company with an office in Brooklyn.
What are the details?
In the video, images of pre-quarantine New York City flash across the screen to a moving score from Hans Zimmer as Cuomo delivers inspiring words assuring New Yorkers that "we're going to get through [this]."
The film company's CEO, Peter Maiden, reportedly told Vice that the "NY Tough" video was done pro bono and was intended to encourage New Yorkers during a trying time.
"But there's one problem," the VICE report said. "Several writers and producers, who are now struggling and largely out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic and struggling, say much of the footage is theirs and was used without permission."
Here's more from Vice:
"The unfortunate thing here is that this was not a teenager or a 20 year old making some video. This was a studio," said Phil Holland, a cinematographer based out of Los Angeles whose footage was used in the video. "It's professional courtesy that you don't do this in the industry."
After seeing the video, Claudia Montano's friends thought some of the footage looked familiar — and they were right. It came from a movie she's producing with independent filmmaker, Paul Stone, she told VICE News. Stone, a native New Yorker, found footage in "NY Tough" from his film about a childhood friend who perished in the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
"Now more than ever, our intellectual property is important to us," said Montano, who's the executive producer of Firebrand Films. "So it's insulting that you would use the pandemic as an excuse to justify stealing."
Holland, whose aerial footage of the city was used in the video, said that it would normally cost $4,000-$5,000 to license the material.
"What really hit me is that they cropped out my watermark," he said.
Had he been reached out to beforehand, though, Holland said he probably would have given it over freely to the cause. Many of the other artists repeated that sentiment.
Montano asked Convicts to remove the video from its social channels and then filed takedown notices with YouTube and Vimeo. The original video has since been taken offline.
Maiden, who has now produced a second version devoid of ripped-off material, said he never intended to upset filmmakers.
"We wanted to be creative, we wanted to do something to help the situation," Maiden said. "We were inspired by Gov. Cuomo's words like I think a lot of people were. We really quickly put together a public service announcement using our original footage and additional clips."
Here's the updated version from Convicts' YouTube page:
NY TOUGH youtu.be