United States Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Allen v. Cooper
November 5, 2019: In what may be the most important copyright case in decades, the court heard oral arguments in Allen v. Cooper. In 2015, according to a complaint filed in federal court, North Carolina pirated footage of Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge. Then North Carolina passed "Blackbeard's Law" to justify that misuse. Rick Allen of Nautilus Productions has taken his case to the Supreme Court of the United States. The issue is whether Congress validly abrogated state sovereign immunity via the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act in providing remedies for authors of original expression whose federal copyrights are infringed by states. North Carolina maintains that sovereign immunity prevents it from being held liable for damages, as other copyright infringers would be. "States can hold copyrights. They can be copyright holders. And they can sue anybody in the world for infringement," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said during arguments. "There's something unseemly about a state saying, yes, we can hold copyrights and we can hold infringers to account to us, but we can infringe to our heart's content and be immune from any compensatory damages."
A ruling in the case is expected in May or June of 2020.