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Wednesday, September 04, 2019
Eleventh Amendment vs. Copyright Law in Supreme Court. (NY Times)
Blackbeard’s Ship Heads to Supreme Court in a Battle Over Another Sort of Piracy
The justices will decide whether an underwater videographer can sue North Carolina for posting his images of the wreckage of a sunken pirate ship.
WASHINGTON — A little more than 300 years ago, the pirate Blackbeard captured a French merchant vessel, renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge, armed it with 40 cannons and used it to pursue his calling of pillage and plunder.
In November, the Supreme Court will consider a case arising from the discovery of the ship’s wreckage off the North Carolina coast. It concerns another sort of piracy: a claim that the State of North Carolina stole copyrighted videos of the submerged remains of the ship.
After a private company discovered the wreckage in 1996, it hired Frederick Allen, a videographer, to film and photograph its ambitious underwater salvage work. Mr. Allen spent much of the next two decades doing that dangerous job, which required him to make 200 dives. “It’s not the same as shooting a wedding, that’s for sure,” he said of the experience.
“You’re uncovering artifacts that were last touched by Blackbeard’s crew or Blackbeard himself, and it’s been 300 years since anybody has seen them,” Mr. Allen added. “It’s a chance to put your hand on the history.”