An article at IntLawGrrls entitled, The Jolly Roger Still Flies, reminds us that piracy is still a very lucrative business-- I don't mean piracy in the intellectual property sense of the word-- I mean REAL pirates! Here is a piece of the article:
...[T]oday’s pirates seem to have gone largely unmentioned in the mainstream press, despite their having taken some 3200 sailors hostage over the last 10 years, which they’ve ransomed for millions of dollars (paid by the shipowners). In fact, total worldwide losses due to commercial vessel piracy are estimated at USD 13-16 billion per year. Just a little over a week ago, for example, Somalian farmers cum pirates took control of a French luxury liner, the Ponant, in the Gulf of Aden. The passengers had been dropped off and the ship was taken after it pulled out of port, as are many ships in this Gulf, where they’d apparently have to be racing along at 200 nautical miles/hour to escape capture. The 22-member crew was hostaged for a reported $2 million, but the French military operation managed to net 6 of 13 pirates and some of the booty. The legal questions now are: where will these 6 pirates be tried and how should such cases be handled in the future? International maritime law does not provide a complete answer: a state seizing a ship from pirates is authorized to prosecute the pirates (indeed, the law of nations upon which the ATCA was built required states to prosecute alleged pirates and put them to death if convicted)...
Click here for the entire post, which gives an overview of some law pertaining to pirates.
UPDATE (4/15/08): Apparently, pirates are a popular topic of discussion currently. The FP Passport blog has an integrated satellite map that shows reported incidents of pirate attacks and hijackings off the coast of Somalia between January and November of 2007 as well as incidents in 2005 and 2006. See it here.