It has been almost 300 years since notorious English pirate Blackbeard was killed off the coast of North Carolina. There are many tales about the life of the pirate who spent his days sailing around Britain's North American colonies on the east coast and the West Indies. His reputation as an ill-famed pirate only helps to bolster interest in him and the current Legal Battle that is taking place in North Carolina. Since the recovery of Blackbeard's commanding ship in 1996, there have been many controversial arguments leading to lawsuits and legal battles.

Discovery of Blackbeard's ship led to ongoing legal battles

Blackbeard's ship, "Queen Anne's Revenge," was discovered in 1996 by private rescuers Intersal Inc. who come from Palm Bay in Florida. The ship was run aground in 1718, and Blackbeard himself was subsequently killed only a few months later during a battle in the Pamlico Sound against the British Royal Navy. After the discovery of Blackbeard's commanding ship, the rescuers and the state came to a mutual understanding and agreement that allowed Intersal to create photos and videos of the wreckage which they could copyright. This was agreed by both parties in 1998. While this was happening in the background, excavations had started on the ship by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

During this time, more unsettle came to the fore in the form of intellectual property rights. This was eventually put to bed in 2013 with an agreement made between Intersal, the Nautilus Productions of Fayetteville (videos and photos had been created by them using artifacts from the ship and the actual wreckage) and the state.

However, in 2015 a new law was passed by the North Carolina State Legislature stating that all photos of the ship and the wreckage were public records (belonged to the state) and could not be subject to copyright.

So where does the legal battle stand now?

At the moment, the legal battle is continuing between the state of North Carolina and the original rescuers, Intersal, and Nautilus Productions.

Both Intersal and Nautilus have put forward a lawsuit which is currently making its way through the North Carolina courts. "Queen Anne's Revenge" and the wreckage site have not been touched since 2015. It was only in 2011 that the ship was officially confirmed to be Blackbeard's commanding ship. Two main pieces of evidence pointed archaeologists in the right direction when exploring the origin of the ship. The North Carolina Maritime Museum's public relations officer, Claire Aubel, explained these at the time of the confirmation saying "the sheer size of the wreck and the many weapons that were found in the rubble" helped lead to the confirmation. She added that "no other ship as big as the "Queen Anne's Revenge" was known to have been in the area at the time, and a pirate ship would have been well armed."