Justices Hear Copyright Case Involving Pirate Ship

November 5, 2019 by Dan McCue

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.

Supreme Court

Alito: COVID Crisis Has Been a ‘Constitutional Stress Test’
Supreme Court
Alito: COVID Crisis Has Been a ‘Constitutional Stress Test’
November 13, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., told the Federalist Society in a keynote address Thursday night the coronavirus pandemic has led to "previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty." "I am not diminishing the severity of the virus's threat to public health," Alito continued in a... Read More

Supreme Court Appears Likely to Preserve Most of Affordable Care Act
Supreme Court
Supreme Court Appears Likely to Preserve Most of Affordable Care Act
November 10, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON -- So much for the new conservative majority of the Supreme Court dismantling the Affordable Care Act. On Tuesday, during oral arguments for California v. Texas, one of this term's most anticipated cases, two members of that majority, suggested they're not inclined to strike down... Read More

All About the New ACA Challenge Before the Supreme Court
Supreme Court
All About the New ACA Challenge Before the Supreme Court
November 10, 2020
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — This morning, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a legal challenge seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act.  This third major challenge to the ACA heard by the Supreme Court, Texas v. California seeks to decide whether Congress, by eliminating the penalty... Read More

Political Gaze Shifts to the Supreme Court as Justices Hear Pivotal Health Care Case
Supreme Court
Political Gaze Shifts to the Supreme Court as Justices Hear Pivotal Health Care Case

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett hears oral argument Tuesday in a case that threatens to wipe out the 2010 health care law, likely the term's most consequential case, under a political spotlight that rarely shines brighter on justices who would rather stay out of it.... Read More

Supreme Court Blocks Injured Officer's Suit Against Leader of Black Lives Matter Rally
Supreme Court
Supreme Court Blocks Injured Officer's Suit Against Leader of Black Lives Matter Rally

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday set aside an appeals court ruling by a panel of conservative judges that held an injured police officer could sue and win damages from the leader of a Black Lives Matter protest rally. The case had raised alarms among civil libertarians, who said it... Read More

Justice Barrett Participates in Her First Supreme Court Arguments
Supreme Court
Justice Barrett Participates in Her First Supreme Court Arguments
November 2, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined her new colleagues on the Supreme Court Monday, participating in oral arguments for the first time. The cases on the docket Monday were no head-turners. The first, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club Inc., concerned public disclosure... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top