ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A photographer claims Firelight Media’s documentary, “We Shall Remain: Wounded Knee,” used her photos of the violent 1973 standoff without her permission and without giving her credit. Anne Pearse-Hocker, who says she took the pictures “under direct automatic weapons and rifle fire at considerable risk to her own life and safety,” accuses the independent film production company of copyright infringement.
Pearse-Hocker says she spent about two weeks in Wounded Knee, South Dakota during the 1973 siege. A group of Native Americans, including members of the American Indian Movement, took armed control of the town, and during the course of the 71-day siege one U.S. marshal was shot and partially paralyzed and two Sioux were shot and killed.
Pearse-Hocker claims she and one other photojournalist were the only press allowed to remain in Wounded Knee during the standoff, during which time she snapped several hundred pictures.
In 1996, she says, she gave the pictures to the National Museum of the American Indian, but retained ownership of the copyrights.
She claims Firelight gained permission to use the pictures from the Smithsonian Institutions to make a documentary, which Firelight released in February 2008.
Pearse-Hocker says Firelight used several pictures from the museum’s archives, including images of one of the Sioux immediately after he was shot, being carried from a church for medical aid.
She claims the documentary was broadcast on PBS and is available for purchase through the PBS Web site and from Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Borders.
Pearse-Hocker says she also filed a copyright claim against the Smithsonian in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for handing over her copyrighted pictures to Firelight.
She wants Firelight Media to stop broadcasting her photos, to return all hard copies and delete electronic copies. She also wants compensatory damages of up to $150,000.
She is represented by Eric Heyer of Thompson Hine.