Ahoy, me hearties! The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has just released an opinion defining "piracy". It includes acts of violence even if there is no robbery. Full opinion here.
The Court didn't buy it, holding:According to the defendants, the crime of piracy has been narrowly defined for purposes of § 1651 as robbery at sea, i.e., seizing or otherwise robbing a vessel. Because they boarded the Nicholas only as captives and indisputably took no property, the defendants contest their convictions on Count One, as well as the affixed life sentences.
We also agree with the district court that the definition of piracy under the law of nations, at the time of the defendants’ attack on the USS Nicholas and continuing today, had for decades encompassed their violent conduct.
That means you can't just attack someone's vessel, run them through with your cutlass (or shoot them with your AK-47), and then hope to go free just because you didn't steal anything.
Shiver me timbers!