Producer alleges copyright infringement in PBS ‘Navy Seals’ documentary

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A producer is suing a documentary filmmaker, PBS and several California member stations alleging copyright infringement in the 2014 film Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story.

Pacific Coast Video of Santa Barbara, Calif., claims that “within hours of the first broadcast” of Navy SEALs, it informed PBS that the film used without permission footage copyrighted by PCV. PCV also contacted fleisherfilm in Jackson, Wyo., which produced Navy SEALs.

“PCV has attempted, on numerous occasions, to resolve this matter amicably,” the complaint alleges.

A PBS spokesperson and Carol Fleisher of fleisherfilm declined to comment to Current on pending litigation.

Also named in the complaint are PBS SoCal in Costa Mesa, KVCR in San Bernardino and KLCS in Los Angeles, which are among stations that aired the documentary. Navy SEALs was the fourth–most-watched PBS program in 2014, the complaint notes.

The lawsuit contends that PCV owner Gordon Forbes spent years filming with the U.S. military and that PCV “gained notoriety from its one-of-a-kind work with the U.S. Navy SEALs.”

The complaint said that PBS and fleisherfilm “continue to infringe” on PCV’s copyrights by broadcasting the film, streaming on, providing it via other platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, and selling DVD copies.

PCV is claiming it has lost money because its ability to license the footage has been “greatly impaired” and its reputation has been damaged. It also says the defendants have violated the California Business and Professions Code.

PCV is asking to recover whatever money PBS and fleisherfilm have earned from Navy Seals, as well as attorney’s fees. PCF is also requesting a jury trial.

The defendants have 21 days to respond.

Here’s the full complaint:

Navy Seals Lawsuit (Text)

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