Copyright dispute over Blackbeard ship video, other Supreme Court cases could have impact on businesses

A copyright dispute between a video production company and the state of North Carolina over footage of a ship captained by Blackbeard the pirate is one of many cases on the Supreme Court's docket that could have an impact on businesses.

North Carolina-based Nautilus Productions says the state has no right to use videos of the Queen Anne's Revenge and the process of salvaging the shipwreck. The production company has been the official video crew of the salvage project since 1998, according to the company's website.

A 3,000-pound anchor from what is believed to be the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, is recovered from the ocean where it has been since 1718 off the coast of Beaufort, N.C.

The state points to a statute nicknamed "Blackbeard's Law" that it says grants it immunity from some private copyright infringement claims. The state has used photos and videos from Nautilus Productions to promote tourism, USA Today reported.

"After Nautilus spent nearly two decades creating works by photographing and filming (at considerable risk) underwater excavation of Blackbeard's famed Queen Anne's Revenge, the state brazenly pirated them," Nautilus Productions wrote in its Supreme Court filing, according to USA Today.

Supreme Court justices clockwise starting top left: Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer.

The case is Allen v. Cooper, named for Nautilus co-founder Rick Allen and Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. It's scheduled for argument on Nov. 5.

Other business-related cases that will go before the Supreme Court after its session starts Monday include several cases about whether the Civil Rights Act's ban on sex discrimination includes protections for employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The court is also scheduled to decide whether a Christian florist who declined to fulfill an order for a same-sex wedding can be forced to participate by the state, as well as a case involving Domino's Pizza after a blind man sued them because he could not use the company's website or app to order pizza.