Salvaging Copyright Reform From High Court Pirate Ship Case

Law360 (March 25, 2020, 7:44 PM EDT) -- On Monday, Justice Elena Kagan, writing for a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court, published the court’s opinion in Allen v. Cooper.[1] 

The case involves the recovery of Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, but, to the disappointment of pirate buffs, the opinion addresses only the dry legal question of state sovereign immunity. In Allen, the court held that the state of North Carolina was immune from federal suit for copyright infringement.

Queen Anne’s Revenge was discovered off the coast of North Carolina in 1996 by a marine salvage company. By law, North Carolina owned the wreck, but it contracted with the salvage...

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