NYC Filmmakers Ripped Off During Pandemic
New York, NY – NYC Filmmaker Claudia Montano, of Firebrand Films, sent a Cease and Desist letter to Peter Maiden for stealing footage in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pirated footage was used in the ubiquitous NY Tough video. Maiden’s company, Convicts, placed the video on its website and on social media without crediting numerous filmmakers whose footage was used without permission. The video’s soundtrack featured New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s speech regarding the Covid-19 virus. The video went viral, elevating Maiden’s brand and landing him a feature in the Sunday New York Times.
Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Clinton and Maria Shriver have shared the video, contributing to millions of views. In many cases, in order to access the stolen footage, Maiden had to hack websites and crop out identifying watermarks. At least seven filmmakers had their work stolen.
“At least ninety percent of the video relied on stolen footage,” said Montano. “Our footage was from a documentary about a friend who died in the 911 attacks. Maiden is now accepting work based upon the efforts of many other filmmakers. Our industry is struggling now. This is despicable.” Maiden acknowledged receiving work from Governor Cuomo’s office and NY Hospitals due to the video.
Montano has since reached out to Ellen DeGeneres who has deleted the video from her social media, but others have not. Meanwhile Maiden asked his contact list to upload the video using the stolen footage to as many platforms as possible to ensure its continued existence. And on April 9th, in response to backlash, Maiden uploaded a reedited version to his website in which the stolen footage was replaced. “It’s too little too late,” said Montano. “He has already benefitted from our work, received a lot of free promotion and accepted work which should have benefited the actual filmmakers. This is a time when we should be supporting each other.”
Other filmmakers whose footage Maiden pirated include Paul Stone, Phil Holland and Tim Hahne.