MAFIAA: Supreme State Gets Sovereign Copyright Immunity, Fileshares Still Go to Jail

grarpamp grarpamp at
Tue Mar 24 23:28:59 PDT 2020

The Supreme Court of the United States dealt a major blow to
photographers' copyright protections when it declared that states
cannot be sued for copyright infringement because they have "sovereign
The case began in 2013, when videographer Frederick Allen sued North
Carolina for using his videos of the salvage of Queen Anne's Revenge,
a shipwreck discovered off the North Carolina coast in 1998, without
permission. The state claimed "sovereign immunity," and though they
initially lost this argument in the Eastern District of North
In essence, the Supreme Court agreed with the Fourth Circuit,
ultimately striking down the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act (CRCA)
of 1990. This 30-year-old amendment to the Copyright Act of 1976 tried
to strip states of their sovereign immunity where copyright was
concerned, and it was at the core of Allen's lawsuit. If states can't
claim sovereign immunity to get out of copyright infringement, then
North Carolina had no defense. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court agreed
with the Fourth Circuit, stating that Congress lacked the authority to
take away State's immunity in the CRCA, passing the buck back to
Congress and giving states carte blanche to infringe with impunity.

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