A copyright row involving images of notorious pirate Blackbeard’s ship is headed for the US Supreme Court.
The court has said it will listen to arguments in the autumn, AP reported.
The wreck of Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered off the North Carolina coast in 1996.
Nautilus Productions is suing the state of North Carolina for posting some of its videos of the ship on YouTube and using a photo in a newsletter. Nautilus has documented the salvage for nearly 20 years, but the vessel is owned by the state.
In 2015, the state passed a law that made shipwreck videos and photographs in its custody public records. Nautilus is arguing that the legislation should be declared unconstitutional.
The American Constitution and some earlier court cases had historically protected states against lawsuits. But in 1990, Congress passed a law allowing states to be sued for illegal copying.
Blackbeard (real name Edward Teach) was born in Bristol, western England, circa 1680 and took to the sea, later becoming a pirate. He was reputed to have tied lit fuses under his hat to frighten his enemies, to avoid violence, which would have him up in court today for contravening No Smoking rules.
The Queen Anne’s Revenge was originally a French merchant vessel called La Concorde. Blackbeard captured it in 1717, arming it with 40 cannons. The ship went aground the next year. Blackbeard abandoned it and looked to be in the clear when he settled in Bath, North Carolina, and accepted a royal pardon.
But like many a shipowner in modern times, he couldn’t stay away from the sea and returned to piracy. This brought him to the attention of Alexander Spotswood, lieutenant governor of Virginia, who sent a party of soldiers to capture him, and Blackbeard was killed in a fierce battle in 1718.