WASHINGTON D.C. – A story about an infamous pirate ship sailed all the way to the steps of the Supreme Court.
“I don’t think that anybody ever expects that they’re gonna be going to the Supreme Court, much less arguing over a pirate ship and pirating a video,” Rick Allen, a videographer with Nautilus Productions in North Carolina, said.
Allen has spent much of his life documenting “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” the ship owned by the famed pirate Blackbeard.
It washed up on the shores near Beaufort Inlet over 300 years ago.
However, Allen says the state of North Carolina pirated his video by using it without his permission online.
“It certainly feels a duty to other artists and composers and musicians and software developers and people like me, who don’t have something to do about copyright infringement by states,” Allen said.
After six years of battling the state of North Carolina, Allen’s here at the Supreme Court.
Ryan Park, the Deputy Solicitor General for the state of North Carolina, said the state can’t be sued for copyright.
Two lower courts agreed the state has sovereign immunity, but now, the Supreme Court will decide if that applies in this case.
Park said if the state loses, it will hurt the preservation of the shipwreck.
“The cultural resources department will pay a damages judgment here if it’s awarded, and that would affect its’ ability to continue its important work in recovering the ship.”
A ruling in the case is expected sometime next year.