I am not seeking legal advice. I am asking the pursuit of the issue. I am
not a US citizen so I do not have a congress person to contact. The laws
governing copyright can be amended to address the issue of deep space
objects (DSO). I do not expect a result next week, I merely want the issue
to enter into an agenda of some sort. If the Foundation is going to take
the lead, this probably would only be possible through a board decision. In
such a case I want to work with people to come up with such a draft
proposal to the board.

  I realize this is an unusual request but there seems to be a lack of
clarity on this issue[1]. Argument is that copyright can be an issue since
not every organization observing or assisting NASA's observations are
PD-USgov compatible. We may be forced to permanently delete all deep space
objects as a result.

  I'd like to provide a short technical explanation why copyright of deep
space objects or DSOs (objects outside of the solar system) are
meaningless. For ordinary photographs copyright is determined by factors
such as lighting, perspective, exposure and other such settings that
creates a different image of the same object. You can distinguish the
difference between a daylight photo and an evening photo.

  With deep space objects however, even the stellar parallax[2] has a very
small value. The closest object outside of the solar system is 4.24 light
years (268,136 AU's) away. The semi-major axis of earth is about 1AUs. The
difference in perspective is like looking at a 2cm (width of a nickel) wide
object 5.3km (3.29 miles) away and the perspective difference is switching
left eye to the right eye. We lack scientific instruments to even detect a
stellar parallax for objects much further. In other words our perspective
of the nearest star and beyond is more or less constant and the objects
themselves look the same for hundreds of years.

  So any photo of a deep space object I or someone else takes from the
solar system will look identical regardless of when and where on earth I
take it within multiple lifetimes. I think this can bring legal precedent
for us to either disregard any copyright claim or at least pursue lawmakers
in congress to amend the copyright law to make an exception in the law.
People who worked with congress such as Neil Degrasse Tyson could be
consulted to this end. Also international treaties[3] can be consulted to
this end as copyrighting photos of deep space objects could be interpreted
as an unfair exploitation of resources.

  I realize this reads like something out of Star Trek but this is growing
to be quite a problem as we see more and more weird copyright claims even
when dealing with NASA which traditionally had a PD-USgov mentality. NASA
regularly contracts its more recent projects and to be fair we do not know
how NASA contracts these projects which could potentially lead
to legitimate copyright claims in the future.


[2]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_parallax

[3]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_law#International_treaties

  -- とある白い猫  (To Aru Shiroi Neko)
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