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Murky Waters: The Law and Economics of Salvaging Historic Shipwrecks

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Author Info

  • Paul Hallwood

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

The salvage of historic shipwrecks involves a debate between salvors, who wish to maximize profit, and archeologists, who wish to preserve historical value. Traditionally, salvage of shipwrecks has been governed by admiralty law, but the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987 transferred title of historically important wrecks in U.S. waters to the state in whose waters the wreck is found, thereby abrogating admiralty law. This paper examines incentives to locate and salvage historic wrecks under traditional admiralty law and proposes an efficient reward scheme. It then re-considers current U.S. and international law in light of the results.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2004-40.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2004-40

Note: We acknowledge the helpful comments of Dr. Toni Carrell, Robert Neyland, and an anonymous referee.
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Postal: University of Connecticut 341 Mansfield Road, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
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Keywords: Historic shipwrecks; Law of salvage; Admiralty law; Archeological value.;

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  1. SHAVELL, Steven & VAN YPERSELE, Tanguy, . "Rewards versus intellectual property rights," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1597, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Lueck, Dean, 1995. "The Rule of First Possession and the Design of the Law," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 393-436, October.
  3. William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner, 1978. "Salvors, Finders, Good Samaritans and Other Rescuers: An Economic Study of Law and Altruism," NBER Working Papers 0227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Dromgoole, Sarah, 2004. "Murky waters for government policy: the case of a 17th century British warship and 10 tonnes of gold coins," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 189-198, May.
  5. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 968-79, December.
  6. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1999. "Economic Analysis of Law," NBER Working Papers 6960, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Paul Hallwood & Thomas J. Miceli, 2014. "Unearthing T. Rex: The Law and Economics of Paleontological Finds," Working papers 2014-07, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

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