U.S. Supreme Court maroons filmmaker in Blackbeard video piracy fight
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday delivered a legal broadside to a filmmaker who documented the recovery of notorious English pirate Blackbeard’s wrecked ship, refusing to revive his video piracy lawsuit that seeks monetary damages from North Carolina.
The justices unanimously upheld a lower court’s 2018 ruling that the state was protected by a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity and could not be sued for copyright infringement for using filmmaker Frederick Allen’s images online. Allen sued in 2015 in federal court, accusing the state of infringing his copyrights on five videos and a photograph of salvage operation for the historically significant ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which went down in 1718 in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Beaufort, North Carolina. The case tested the balance between the right of individuals to protect their creations through copyrights and the fact that states typically are shielded under the U.S. Constitution from lawsuits seeking damages through sovereign immunity. Allen said he was saddened by the court’s decision and that his company, Nautilus Productions, would evaluate its options.
25 March 2020