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Walter Scott

Source: ( JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Playing the disturbing video of former North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager shooting and killing 50-year-old Walter Scott may soon cost thousands for news outlets around the world.

According to the New York Times, a publicist representing the bystander who shot the video, Feidin Santana, said the footage will now cost media $10,000 to run. Markson Sparks, the celebrity management company based in Sydney, Australia, sent out cease-and-desist letters to outlets this week.

After the April 4 shooting, Santana turned the video over to Scott’s family instead of the police. According to the Times, the bystander was unaware of the high price tag for the video, saying that he only recalled his lawyer mentioning “something about charging for it,” but didn’t fully understand.

The lawyer, Todd Rutherford, said it was only fair for Mr. Santana to start getting paid for something that news outlets benefited from.

“The search for justice is served by turning the video over to law enforcement,” Mr. Rutherford said. The news media, he said, appeared to be in the “search for revenue.”

Copyright experts agreed that although news agencies are allowed to use even copyrighted material under what is called “fair use” clauses in the law that time period has passed. “At some point it’s not newsworthy anymore and you are using it for commercial benefit,” said Frederic Haber, a vice president and general counsel of the Copyright Clearance Center, a collective licensing organization that works on behalf of copyright holders such as The New York Times. The issue could change once the video is played in court during a trial, he said.

The high fee would be negotiable, Max Markson, chief executive of Markson Sparks, told the Times. Another person familiar with negotiations, however, told the publication the $10,000 was a one-time fee.

The horrific video has been viewed on YouTube more than one million times.



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