Doniger / Burroughs Files Suit on Behalf of Filmmaker After PETA Steals and Claims Footage

Culver City, CA – A team of attorneys led by Scott A. Burroughs of Doniger / Burroughs has filed a lawsuit against People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (“PETA”) in the Southern District of New York on behalf of Beyond the Frame, Ltd., a filmmaker in the United Kingdom that owns the rights to a ground-breaking motion picture that depicts the horrors of factory farming. The complaint alleges, among other things, copyright infringement for the unauthorized use of key scenes from its film.

In 1982, the client, and its principal, Victor Schonfeld, an internationally-distinguished filmmaker with a wide range of cinema and television achievements and awards, released “The Animals Film.” This film was extraordinarily well-received and recognized as having footage that had never before been seen in a film of its type. Numerous positive reviews were published in the world’s leading news outlets, and the film brought substantial awareness to the issue of animal mistreatment in factory farms. The British National Film Archive and the U.S. Library of Congress have each accessioned film prints of “The Animals Film” for preservation in their permanent collections. 

Certain sections of footage in “The Animals Film” were found to be especially compelling to audiences around the world, including one of the few, if not the only, high-quality professionally shot sequences of a “de-beaking,” in which a chicken’s beak is removed via a method that is highly vicious and offensive. The beaks must be removed, it is told, so that the chickens, after being packed together in cages where they are unable to ambulate, will not peck one another to death. This sequence has been cited to in numerous reviews as the film’s emotional and narrative heart.

PETA has misappropriated the “de-beaking” scene, amongst others, from “The Animals Film,” and exploited the firm’s client’s footage in no fewer than thirty (30) different motion picture projects. Amazingly, in one of these exploitations, a motion picture shown on the Home Box Office network, PETA claims to have authored the footage taken from The Animals Film.

The action is currently pending before the Honorable Richard Berman in the Southern District of New York. If you have any questions or comments regarding this action, you may contact Scott A. Burroughs of Doniger / Burroughs at (310) 590-1820 or

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  • About the Firm

    Doniger / Burroughs is California’s premier fashion, art, entertainment, and technology law boutique. The firm has resolved more than 1,000 disputes over the almost 20 years it has been in existence, and has represented all manner of individuals and businesses in the creative industries. Its lawyers have extensive state and federal court experience, and hail from well-regarded law schools. The firm has been on the forefront of cutting-edge copyright law, appearing often before judges, juries, and the Courts of Appeal. It has tried more copyright infringement cases than virtually any other firm over the last 5-10 years, and has obtained for its clients numerous six- and seven-figure verdicts and settlements.

    The firm is committed to representing artists and content creators, and enforcing intellectual property rights. It has litigated successfully against many of the nation’s largest retailers, film and television studios, web sites, and news organizations. Its partners speak and write often on art and copyright law issues, and devote significant time and resources to ensuring a level playing field for those responsible for the creation of art and content.