Deep Dive Episode 76 – State-Sponsored Piracy? The Allen v. Cooper Case

Regulatory Transparency Project's Fourth Branch Podcast

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What happens when a state agency uses without authorization copyrighted videos and pictures of Blackbeard’s famous pirate ship, the Queen Ann’s Revenge? Is this an act of state-sanctioned piracy for which the copyright owner can sue for the violation of his rights, or is the state immune from such a lawsuit under its inherent sovereign immunity? This is the question that the Supreme Court will answer in Allen v. Cooper, with oral arguments scheduled for November 5, 2019.

In this case, North Carolina argues that it is immune from any copyright infringement lawsuits given its state sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment. Rick Allen maintains in his lawsuit that North Carolina is liable for its unauthorized use of his video footage and photographs of the Queen Ann’s Revenge given that Congress validly abrogated the state’s sovereign immunity in the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act (CRCA). In Allen v. Cooper, the Supreme Court will determine whether the CRCA was a valid statutory abrogation of North Carolina’s state sovereign immunity. In this teleforum, experts on varying sides of the issue will discuss the case and its impact on state officials and the use of copyrighted materials by state agencies and other institutions.


  • Michael Bynum, Editor, Epic Sports
  • Terry Hart, VP, Legal Policy and Copyright Counsel, Copyright Alliance
  • Matthew R. McGuire, Counsel, Hunton Andrews Kurth

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