Supreme Court Takes Blackbeard Ship Case in Test of Immunity


(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to use a case involving the wreckage of the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship to decide whether states can be sued for copyright infringement.

The case will test a series of high court rulings in recent decades that have broadened the sovereign immunity of states in other contexts.

The court will hear an appeal from Frederick Allen, whose video company has been documenting the salvage of Queen Anne’s Revenge, the pirate ship that sank off the North Carolina coast in 1718. Allen is suing the state for posting some of his videos online and using an image in print materials.

Congress enacted a law in 1990 letting states be sued for copyright infringement. A federal appeals court said that law was unconstitutional.

The case is Allen v. Cooper, 18-877.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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