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Judge Spikes Attempts to Dismiss Blackbeard's Lawsuit
Judge Boyle's decision allows the lawsuit for copyright infringement and for a declaration of the statute's invalidity to move forward in Federal court.
Nautilus, the official videographer of Blackbeard's pirate ship the Queen Anne's Revenge, brought suit at the end of 2015 alleging the defendants made illegal copies of Nautilus's videography, and then persuaded the legislature to pass an unconstitutional law - now known as "Blackbeard's Law" - in an attempt to justify pirating decades of work from Nautilus. Judge Boyle's decision allows the lawsuit for copyright infringement and for a declaration of the statute's invalidity to move forward in Federal court.
"I am gratified by Judge Boyle's ruling," stated Rick Allen, owner of Nautilus Productions. "It was surreal to sit in a federal courtroom in the town where Blackbeard himself held sway, listening to the State's attorneys try to defend the State's own acts of piracy. Taking our work, and then passing a law (http://nautilusproductions.com/
In rejecting the defendants' attempt to dismiss the copyright claims, Judge Boyle noted that protection of copyrights is a "right of such importance to the founders that it was, unique among most functions undertaken by the federal government today, expressly mentioned in Article I as an important protection to be ensured by the national government."
This lawsuit arises out of the retrieval of Blackbeard's pirate ship. According to the complaint filed in the case, the defendants were not content to use the videography as agreed and began making unauthorized copies, covering up their misconduct and passing and amending legislation to protect their copyright infringements. Defendants in addition to the Governor and the State include employees of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and the Friends of Queen Anne's Revenge non-profit. The Friends of Queen Anne's Revenge dissolved their corporation after the lawsuit was filed and are being defended by their insurance carrier.
Since 1998, Nautilus Productions has been the official video crew for the Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge Shipwreck Project. Nautilus Productions has documented almost two decades of archaeological activities and the recovery of artifacts from Blackbeard's infamous shipwreck for the benefit of, and at zero cost to, the taxpayers of North Carolina.
The shipwreck was discovered by Intersal Inc., which has filed a separate lawsuit against North Carolina and the Friends of Queen Anne's Revenge that continues in state business court.
Nautilus Productions LLC is represented by Susan Freya Olive and David McKenzie of Olive and Olive, P.A. and Joe Poe of the Poe Law Firm, PLLC, both of Durham, NC.