Since flying a pirate flag in open waters would likely attract a "shoot first and ask questions later" response, I was wondering if there is a maritime flag that should be flown when you are using a pirate flag during a film / movie / TV shoot?

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    I would imagine such scenes are not shot in open waters but rather in a more controlled environment such as a body of water under some sort of government control or even on a sound stage using CG. Do you have an example of a movie that was filmed in open waters using a pirate flag? – sanpaco Apr 1 '16 at 5:56
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    A few seconds googling would strongly suggest that a) Flying the Jolly Roger is actually pretty common and largely ignored by the coastguard b) Perfectly legal in most countries and c) Most films aren't filmed in open waters, they're usually filmed very close to the shore and then have the cameras point away from the land to make it look like they're farther out. – user7812 Apr 1 '16 at 8:57
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    Only a few countries have shoot first policies toward pirates, like Indonesia and Somalia, and real pirates don't openly advertise they are pirates, mostly flying false flags. – cde Apr 1 '16 at 21:26
  • No, I don't have any example... the question literally just popped in my head. I tried some google searches of my own but was inconclusive, so thought I'd ask here! – Philip Snyder Apr 2 '16 at 4:52
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    Also, how many modern-day pirate movies are there? Most are set in the age of sail, probably (especially if flying a stereotypical jolly roger), so being considered a serious/realistic/actual threat is pretty low... – Clockwork-Muse Apr 2 '16 at 5:59

The Law of the Sea is a body of case law and treaties, originating from the 17th century book by the legal scholar Hugo de Groot, and generally adhered to by 'civilized' nations throughout the ensuing centuries.

It is now codified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, which has International Treaty status, and is ratified by almost all UN member nations, and includes specific tribunals to deal with issues like piracy and actually defines piracy.

Boarding and detaining suspected pirates/vessels under control of pirates is restricted to government vessels.

Where does the Jolly Roger come in? It can still, based on case law, be seen as an intention to commit acts of piracy. However, the Law of the Seas applies on the 'High Seas' and within the territorial waters national legislation takes precedence.

In the absence of any national legislation, though, one could argue that therefore the Law of the Seas applies or can be applied. I don't know about US law, but outside the 3NM zone, on the strength of the Law of the Seas, the US Coast Guard would be entitled to board a yacht that flies the Jolly Roger to ascertain themselves of the real intentions. What happens next is up to litigation lawyers

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