Left Menu
Development News Edition

English pirate 'Blackbeard' to be navigated by U.S. Supreme Court over video piracy case

Devdiscourse News Desk | Washington DC | Updated: 04-06-2019 00:22 IST | Created: 04-06-2019 00:06 IST
English pirate 'Blackbeard' to be navigated by U.S. Supreme Court over video piracy case
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The nine black-robed justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will soon navigate the treacherous legal waters around a sailing ship made famous in the 18th century by the notorious English pirate known as Blackbeard.

The court on Monday agreed to hear a bid by a documentary filmmaker to revive his lawsuit against state officials in North Carolina who he accused of unlawfully pirating his footage of the wrecked pirate ship named the Queen Anne's Revenge, which went down in 1718. The filmmaker, Frederick Allen, has appealed a lower court's ruling that North Carolina could not be sued under federal law for allegedly infringing his copyrights on five videos and a photograph of salvage operation for the ship in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Beaufort, North Carolina.

Though states typically are shielded from lawsuits under the U.S. Constitution through a form of protection known as sovereign immunity, the case hinges on whether the shield applies to copyright infringement. In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed a law allowing states to be held liable for illegal copying. Blackbeard, whose name was Edward Teach, ran aground the Queen Anne's Revenge, his flagship, on a sandbar 58 years before the United States declared independence from Britain. By law, the ship and its artifacts are owned by the state.

A private salvage company located the wreck in 1996. Allen and his firm, Nautilus Productions, documented the efforts by divers and archaeologists to recover artifacts. Allen obtained federal copyright registrations on the videos and still images. Allen and Nautilus sued North Carolina in federal court after state officials used some of the documentary materials on YouTube and a state agency website. The state also passed a law converting the materials into public records.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the case last year, ruling that Congress exceeded its powers in passing the 1990 Copyright Remedy Clarification Act as an attempt to override state sovereign immunity in copyright disputes. Appealing to the Supreme Court, Allen said states are flagrantly infringing authors' copyrights and invoking sovereign immunity as a way to avoid paying damages.

If the 4th Circuit's decision is not overturned, Allen said in a legal filing, "creators of original expression will be left without remedy when states trample their federal copyrights." North Carolina Attorney General Joshua Stein emphasized the shipwreck's historical and archaeological value and told the justices that the 1990 law is unconstitutional.

Blackbeard prowled the shipping lanes off the Atlantic coast of North America and throughout the Caribbean before being slain - shot, stabbed and decapitated - in 1718 during an encounter with British naval forces at North Carolina's Ocracoke Inlet. The justices will hear the case in their next term, which begins in October.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

New farm bills in India: Focusing on farms or farmers?

... ...

Kenya’s COVID-19 response: Chaos amid lack of information

Confusing numbers and scanty information on how effective curfews and lockdowns have been in breaking transmission have amplified coordination and planning challenges in Kenyas response to COVID-19. Without accurate data, it is impossible t...

Farkhad Akhmedov: Calculating the price of impunity from the law

In insistences such as the battle over the Luna, Akhmedov has resorted to extreme legal machinations to subvert the High Courts decision and keep his assets from being seized. ...

Guinea’s elections hearken back to the autocracy and violence of its past

... ...

Videos

Latest News

Aditya Birla Fashion to sell 7.8 pc stake to Flipkart Group for Rs 1,500cr

Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd ABFRL on Friday said its board has approved plans to raise Rs 1,500 crore by issuing 7.8 per cent stake on a preferential basis to Walmart-owned Flipkart Group. Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail has today a...

Trump's executive order on visas for foreign workers cost USD 100 billion: Report

President Donald Trumps executive order restricting entry of skilled foreign workers into the US, mainly on H-1B and L1 visas, has resulted in an estimated loss of USD 100 billion to companies and will have lasting negative impacts on firms...

World Test Championship should be extended to make up for COVID-19 disruption: Misbah

Pakistans head coach Misbah-ul-Haq wants the ICC to conduct the World Test Championship exactly the way it has been planned even if it means extending the duration of the event due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Misbahs ...

Those protesting against farm laws want to save brokers and middlemen while talking about MSP and 'mandis': Modi at Bihar poll rally.

Those protesting against farm laws want to save brokers and middlemen while talking about MSP and mandis Modi at Bihar poll rally....

Give Feedback