Sunday, October 22, 2006

SF Gate: "Unreal estate -- for some, the moon's the limit"

Carol Lloyd, from SF Gate, interviewed me for an article on space property rights (

What do you get when you take the real away from real estate?
Unreal Estate, of course. Otherwise known as space real estate, this intergalactic enterprise zone has been around for centuries. ...
Earlier this year, Virgiliu Pop, a Romanian space law expert, published his monograph, "Unreal Estate: The Men Who Sold the Moon," which chronicles the history of celestial space grabs and their legal ramifications.
Interestingly, Pop, like many other space lawyers who have weighed in on the issue, aren't focused on consumer protection so much as the protection of his profession.
"Space law is very complex -- it deals with issues as varied as sovereignty in space, pollution in space, registration of satellites," he states in an e-mail. Since his doctoral dissertation for the University of Glasgow deals with property rights in outer space, he's concerned that Hope and other celestial "space oil" salesmen are influencing what should be a serious discussion about how to control space ownership in the future.
"This issue (of unreal estate) has hijacked the public perception of space law," he writes. The primary issues he's concerned about vis-a-vis space law currently involve how governments determine satellite positioning, and regulating satellite frequencies and other potential conflicts between national uses for outer space.
"In the public mind, space law ... does not mean regulation of the frequency spectrum, it does not mean registration. For the regular person on the street, space law concerns the sale of extraterrestrial real estate."