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Check Out Our Pirattitude

Everyone loves pirates. As International Talk Like a Pirate Day approaches, especially this year when it’s falling on a Saturday, there’s a built-in excuse for a party. You get to say “Arrr” quite a bit, fly a Jolly Roger, possibly drink rum or carry a cutlass, although one hopes not at the same time. Pirates have become a huge part of people’s pop culture consciousness, and piracy is celebrated in blockbuster movies, kids’ birthday parties, costume festivals, name-generator websites, popular fiction and how-to books. In fact this holiday is so entrenched in people’s hearts and minds that Michigan’s legislature recognized International Talk Like a Pirate Day “to formally acknowledge this holiday as a tribute to Michigan’s rich and vibrant history of piracy on the Great Lakes and to celebrate [its] unique Michigan heritage.”

Dale Clark poses as actor Johnny Depp, in character from the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean," on the street in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California, 2013. (Photo by Carol Highsmith.) (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.24391)

Dale Clark poses as actor Johnny Depp, in character from the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean,” on the street in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, California, 2013. (Photo by Carol Highsmith.) (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.24391)

As fun and light-hearted as piracy may seem to modern society, it’s actually an ancient crime that continues to live on in various pockets of the world-Somalia and the South China Sea, for example. Cicero called pirates “communis hostis omnium” (the common enemy of all). A large number of law books have been published in the last few years that attempt tofill the legal lacunae”  in international law where the crimes of maritime piracy tend to fall, as the piracy law website Communis Hostis Omnium phrases it. Researchers can start to dive into our collections with the digitized piracy laws on law.gov, and they can widen their search on site; the Law Library collected several new books on piracy in 2015. Legal scholars can investigate the latest additions to our hoard, and many earlier piracy law titles as well, the next time they visit the Law Library.

Following is a list of some of our newest treasure:

Governing the sea in the early modern era: essays in honor of Robert C. Ritchie.

Guilfoyle, Douglas. Modern Piracy: Legal Challenges and Responses

Kamal-Deen, Ali. Maritime security cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea: prospects and challenges.

Policante, Amedeo. The Pirate Myth: Genealogies of an Imperial Concept

Routledge handbook of maritime regulation and enforcement.

Scharf, Michael P. ed. Prosecuting Maritime Piracy: Domestic Solutions to International Crimes

What’s wrong with international law?: liber amicorum A.H.A. Soons.

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