Justices Hear Copyright Case Involving Pirate Ship
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court traded “Oyez!” for “Ahoys” Tuesday morning as they grappled with a modern-day dispute over the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship.
The Queen Anne’s Revenge went down off North Carolina’s coast more than 300 years ago and lay buried and undisturbed in shallow waters until it was discovered in 1996.
The case before the court on Tuesday was not over the vessel itself and any treasure it may or may not hold, but rather over the copyrights associated with photos and videos that documented the ship’s recovery.
Underwater photographer Rick Allen, whose company captured the footage, says he holds the copyrights to the material and that the state should pay for using them in promotional and other materials.
But Ryan Park, North Carolina’s deputy solicitor general, argued on Tuesday that federal law prohibits copyright infringement lawsuits against states.
Allen has spent the last 20 years recording video as researchers explore the remains of The Queen Anne’s Revenge, which Blackbeard, whose given name was Edward Teach, ran aground near present day Beaufort Inlet, N.C., in May 1718.
The pirates and his men abandoned the ship and transferred to smaller boats to hide in the state’s inland waters.
Allen argues that North Carolina has pirated his media content ever since – posting it on various state websites without paying him.
His attorney, Derek Shaffer told the justices Tuesday that they should side with Allen, otherwise they risk making private property rights irrelevant.
The case is Allen, et al. v. Roy A Cooper, III, Governor of North Carolina, et al. No 18-877.
In The News
WASHINGTON — Some Supreme Court justices on Wednesday sounded ready to rule that states offering scholarships or subsidies to private schools must include those operated by churches. The court’s conservatives, including Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., said that excluding private schools because they are religious... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chief Justice John Roberts drew little attention to himself in the beginning 12 hours of his first impeachment trial. But it was just before 1 a.m., as tempers on the floor had started to wear thin, that he reminded senators, House impeachment managers and... Read More
Jan. 22 marks the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide. Those on both sides of the furious debate say this could be the year when everything changes. In March, the Supreme Court will hear its first abortion case since... Read More
The U.S. Supreme Court will review a Philadelphia federal judge’s decision last year to block new Trump administration rules that would have let almost any employer deny female workers no-cost birth control coverage by citing religious and moral objections. In an order late Friday, the justices... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a request that it resolve a dispute over the authority of a judge to order the disclosure of secret grand jury material in rare circumstances. The underlying case stems from a researcher's 40-year quest to solve the disappearance... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Wednesday will wade into a thorny battle over school-choice programs and state aid for religious schools as it weighs a request from three Montana families to allow a state scholarship program to fund their children's Christian education. The petitioners in... Read More