The gruesome, widely seen video of a South Carolina cop fatally shooting an unarmed black man now has a hefty price tag.
An Australian celebrity management company sent cease-and-desist letters to several news outlets around the globe this week, demanding thousands of dollars to run the shocking clip that got North Charleston cop Michael Slager slapped with a murder charge for the death of Walter Scott.
“It’s been allowed to be used for free for over a week now,” Max Markson, CEO of the Sydney-based Markson Sparks group, told the Daily News.
“Now it’s going to be licensed and now you have to pay for it.”
Markson would not name any of outlets that got the letters. But he said they went to at least 10 “major news organizations” in the past two days, and they’re on the way to more places soon.
He said the video was freely used as part of “the 24-hour news cycle,” but the company intends to license it for future use in news stories, documentaries and in Slager’s trial.
“The only people who perceive it as bad taste are the ones who wouldn’t pay for it,” Markson said when asked about the belated billing. “Most are happy to pay.”
The first report of the letters, which was in the New York Times, said there will be a $10,000 flat fee for the video, a figure Markson disputes.
“That’s not true. I never said that figure,” he said. “It’s case-by-case. It could be more than $10,000 sometimes.”
Markson told the News he is working with the attorneys of Feidin Santana, the North Charleston man who filmed the footage. He said he hasn’t had direct contact with Santana, who was reportedly surprised by the cease-and-desist news.
Santana’s attorney, Todd Rutherford, was not immediately available for comment.
Markson is a celebrity in his own right in Australia and has worked with Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Australian model Lara Bingle, among many others.
Santana shot the devastating video, in which Slager shoots at the fleeing Scott eight times, on April 4. He released it three days later, after Slager had given a victim-blaming and untrue account of fatal confrontation. The full video has been viewed more than one million times on YouTube.
Prosecutors said Thursday it’s unlikely the death penalty will be sought in Slager’s murder case.
Source Credits: Jason Silverstein in New York Daily News. The picture shared is of Slager with two women who have not been identified.