Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Technology Liberation Front - "Who Owns the Moon"?

Berin Szoka, a libertarian space lawyer and friend of mine, comments on the story just in, and on my new book:

"My Romanian space lawyer (and improbably-named) friend Virgiliu Pop has made the front page of today in a great interview with leading space journalist Leonard David about his new book Who Owns the Moon?: Extraterrestrial Aspects of Land and Mineral Resources Ownership. Virgil slams the “Common Heritage of Mankind” socialism behind the 1979 Moon Treaty, which was killed in the U.S. Senate by the free-market space movement, which later gave birth to the Space Frontier Foundation (which I chair).
Virgil once famously claimed ownership of the sun to demonstrate the absurdity of serious assertions made by a number of charlatans to ownership of lunar territory (Dennis Hope) or the entire Eros asteroid (Greg Nemitz). Virgil’s point was “to show how ridiculous a property rights system in outer space would be if it were to be based solely on claim unsubstantiated by any actual possession.”
I’m looking forward to reading Virgil’s book–and to writing a proper review. For now, I’ll just say that I think Virgil and I see eye-to-eye (something of a rarity among space lawyers on the ultra-contentious issue of property rights):
1. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prohibits nations from approriating territory in space and also prohibits individuals from asserting any territorial claims (generall accepted) except to a narrowly-limited area under actual use (not accepted by all space lawyers).
2. The Outer Space Treaty, properly understood, does not bar claims to ownership of movable objects such as extracted resources or even (if they can be moved in a meanginful way) entire asteroids or comets.
3. Securing such property rights is essential to the economic development of space."

More here