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Murky Waters: The Law and Economics of Salvaging Historic Shipwrecks

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  • Paul Hallwood
  • Thomas J. Miceli

Abstract

The salvage of historic shipwrecks involves a debate between salvors, who wish to maximize profit, and archaeologists, 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 reconsiders current U.S. and international law in light of the results.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Hallwood & Thomas J. Miceli, 2006. "Murky Waters: The Law and Economics of Salvaging Historic Shipwrecks," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(2), pages 285-302, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:35:y:2006:p:285-302 DOI: 10.1086/501094
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 2002. "Economic analysis of law," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 25, pages 1661-1784 Elsevier.
    2. Shavell, Steven & van Ypersele, Tanguy, 2001. "Rewards versus Intellectual Property Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 525-547, October.
    3. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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, pages 189-198.
    7. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 968-979.
    8. John Whitehead & Suzanne Finney, 2003. "Willingness to Pay for Submerged Maritime Cultural Resources," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, pages 231-240.
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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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K1 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law
    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law

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