U.S. Supreme Court Leaves Copyright Holders Without Remedy

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - March 23, 2020 - PRLog -- Today the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, has affirmed a lower court's ruling that Nautilus Productions cannot pursue its copyright lawsuit against the state of North Carolina. Justice Kagan wrote for the Court that the Court's 1999 decision in Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Education Expense Board v. College Savings Bank, which invalidated the federal statute that sought to hold States monetarily liable for patent infringement, "all but prewrote" this decision by the Court. In a separate concurrence, Justice Clarence Thomas questioned "whether copyrights are property within the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause."  Justice Breyer, joined by Justice Ginsburg, lamented that "something is amiss" in the Court's prior precedents, while nonetheless agreeing that they control and therefore concurring in the judgment.

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 extraordinary law - now known as "Blackbeard's Law" - in an attempt to justify pirating decades of work created by Nautilus.

Nautilus owner, Rick Allen, stated, "Today, under this Supreme Court ruling, writers, software developers, composers, film-makers and other creators, just like me, cannot avail themselves of the protection Congress gave them from copyright infringement by states. We are saddened by the court's decision. The state of North Carolina routinely and vigorously enforces its own copyrights, yet simultaneously hides behind sovereign immunity when it violates the intellectual property rights of its own citizens. The Constitution and Congress of the United States of America call for a different result.  The Constitution expressly grants copyright holders 'the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries,'" and Congress expressly provided for States to be liable when they infringe those exclusive rights.

"Going forward Nautilus will be evaluating all of its options." said Allen.

Nautilus Productions LLC is represented by Derek Shaffer and Todd Anten of Quinn Emanuel, Susan Freya Olive and David McKenzie of Olive and Olive, P.A. and Joe Poe of the Poe Law Firm, PLLC.


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Page Updated Last on: Mar 23, 2020

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