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Space Businesses

No More Lunar Land for Sale 379

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the then-i-have-a-bridge-to-sell-you dept.
dptalia writes "According to China Daily, Beijing authorities have shut down sales of lunar property. Apparently there's a "Lunar embassy" in China and they've sold 34 people deeds to land on the moon. Not too surprisingly, the government has declared this illegal. The Bejing office claims to be a satellite of the U.S. Lunar Embassy, run by Dennis Hope. Hope claims that while it is illegal for countries to stake a claim on the moon, it is legal for individuals and corporations to."
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No More Lunar Land for Sale

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  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bl4nk (607569) on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:33PM (#13975167)
    He's clearly a lunatic.
  • and not a drop to drink.

    Morons deserve what they get... buying real estate without due dilligence? You're going to get screwed on Earth, too.
    • I don't know about that. I just got robbed five minutes ago since I was nice enough to offer change for a fifty to some punks that said they needed a cab... or something. Did I really deserve what I got?

      I'd rather be an optimist any day, but people that take advantage of others make being one increasingly hard.
  • Dang! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dragoonmac (929292) <Dragoonmac@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:34PM (#13975177) Journal
    Well, at least we can be satisfied in knowing that the Moon is still open to conquest by anyone else. I'm still holding out for Sony to claim it and post advertisements on it for their products.
  • Wow!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:35PM (#13975184)
    Not only do they sell Lunar property, but I just got this fantastic deal on this bridge in Brooklyn!!! Highly Recommend this seller!
  • by ATAMAH (578546) on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:35PM (#13975186)
    Those 6 acres on the moon i just bought from them - cannot be developed on?
  • by saskboy (600063) on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:35PM (#13975193) Homepage Journal
    "The Bejing office claims to be a satellite of the U.S. Lunar Embassy, run by Dennis Hope. "

    They can even take Hope away from people.

    But seriously, this scam is as old as the 1960s, if not older. Is it my duty as a Slashdot reader to point out that a 30 year old scam copied recently, is not news? No, it's not, so forget I said that, because it is news since people are still falling for it.

    By the way, I've got a star to sell you. A nice one, in the Orion Belt.
  • oldest dupe ever? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joeyspqr (629639) on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:36PM (#13975195)
    "The Man Sold the Moon"
    Robert Heinlein, 1950 (Street & Smith 1939)
  • by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:36PM (#13975196) Homepage Journal
    Hope claims that while it is illegal for countries to stake a claim on the moon, it is legal for individuals and corporations to.

    Legal according to whom? I suppose if you have a problem you could take it up with the Lunar Police. Perhaps they'll throw Hope into the Lunar Jail, and he can speak to a Lunar Lawyer about clarifications on Lunar Law.
    • It's only legal if the law is enforced. Hence, you need military presence that represents you as a citizen legal to take ownership of said land.

      This guys is full of it, he doesn't own jack shit.
    • by Hakubi_Washu (594267) <robert...kosten@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:50PM (#13975303) Homepage
      The "Outer Space Treaty" [wikipedia.org] (Though the UN experts disagree slightly [wikipedia.org]), illegal according to the "Moon Treaty" [wikipedia.org], which wasn't much supported and probably would not be considered in case anyone challenged Hope on it. I'd assume these treaties are going to get revoked once anyone starts having serious interest in extraterrestrial property, but until then his claims are about the best you'll get, aside from the UNs opinion, which many here don't seem to care much about :-)
      • I'd assume these treaties are going to get revoked once anyone starts having serious interest in extraterrestrial property, but until then his claims are about the best you'll get, aside from the UNs opinion, which many here don't seem to care much about :-)

        I'd ignore them - they're pointless until people can actually settle the moon.

      • The Moon Treaty wasn't signed by any of the space-faring countries though.
      • by MinutiaeMan (681498) * on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:56PM (#13975747) Homepage
        However, in the United States, according to Article VI of the Constitution, "...all Treaties made [...] shall be the supreme Law of the Land". This means that the treaty is not only binding upon the government, but also upon the citizens. That means that if the government can't claim it, neither can its citizens. ... I think, anyway. Naturally, IANAL.

        Actually, here's another angle to approach it from: claiming something as property requires that you occupy it, or at least control it in some respect. Obviously that's not possible, unless Neil Armstrong left a Century 21 sign in the Sea of Tranquility or something. Which means that any such property claims can reasonably be argued to have been abandoned, if not unenforceable in the first place.

        Regardless, any moron who tries to hold up a government that wants to build a research lab or a helium-3 refinery on "their" lunar property will be the cause of a great many guffaws in the halls of power shortly thereafter.
    • Are no lawyers in Luna. Nor laws. Warden doesn't let us keep them. What laws we do have might call 'natural laws,' being the way things have to be with things as they are.

      Ask Mike.

      PS: Would you like some Rice?

    • Once in jail, he had better be careful who he offers his moon to!
    • by billstewart (78916) on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:44PM (#13975677) Journal
      Back when I was in grad school in Berkeley in 1978-1979, I bought an acre of land on the moon. Unlike this current guy, who claims to have legitimately laid claim to the whole moon and to be selling everybody a unique piece of land, the guy I bought it from showed up on campus wearing a silver space suit and doing a great schtick, making it clear that he's selling everybody the *same* acre of land, and that he's trading you a nice big fancy green piece of paper with engraving and shiny bits on it and pictures of the moon (the deed) in return for a little boring green piece of paper with a picture of a dead politician on it. He'd been arrested a number of times, because some towns don't like guys in space suits selling acres of land on the moon, but they couldn't legitimately charge him with fraud because he was quite upfront about how he's selling everybody the same acre of land, and he had lots of good pictures of the police trying to keep a straight face while busting him. And he finished with an anti-drug message, about how you shouldn't go taking large quantities of LSD or *you* might end up on the streetcorner in a silver spacesuit selling people land on the moon.
  • Just like the radio-hyped "International Star Registry" I don't think this is a scam really. Maybe they're just publishing an annual book of Moon "owners"?

    First, I would think these deeds are presented more as a gift gag to someone than an honest investment opportunity. The star registry is lame to us geeks, but laypeople love it.

    Secondly, with government so charged to "protect" consumers from scams, you'd think scams would go away. They won't. The only way that scams will be unprofitable is when govern
    • Seeing as the moon won't be productive for another 50+ years, that'll be hard to do, but I'm thinking we need to find options for how we'll divvy it up for future generations.

      I wouldn't be surprised if it were to be treated in a similar fashion to how antarctica was early in the 20th century, with a range of countries claiming a seperate portion for themselves.

    • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:48PM (#13975287)
      ... you'd think scams would go away. They won't. The only way that scams will be unprofitable is when government stops "protecting" citizens and lets people learn to be aware of what they're buying.

      My aunt doesn't fall for these things because she's protected. She falls for it because she's gullible and has always lived in a town filled with people she can trust absolutely. She's not taking risks because she thinks she has nothing to lose, so the government ceasing its protection is not going to help her. And her situation is exactly like everyone else's. But at least as long as it continues what protection it offers, a few stupid people will get their money back from evil bastards. I hate stupid people, but I hate evil bastards more.

      If you want people to learn to distrust, teach them that (and good freaking luck. Those people don't learn things), don't blame the government for trying to help the ones that get screwed.
    • by blibbler (15793) on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:53PM (#13975327)
      As the current US president said:
      "There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again"
    • So the crime of fraud should be unpunished then? Scam artists are criminals and should be treated as such. That includes big companies who make false claims.
      • What you call fraud an AnCap calls Breach of Contract. If someone breaches an agreement, a arbitrator should resolve the problem.

        Take the law out of it -- we already have contract insurers (bonding) to cover these breaches.
        • What's an AnCap? Here when you sell something that doesn't belong to you it's called fraud, is a criminal offense and is punishable by jail time.
          • What if they're not selling the land per se, but are running a registry. You stake your claim to a parcel of land, and the registrar ensures that no two of their customers are assigned the same land. The price you pay is for their service as a registrar of unique land packages.

            Kinda like the DNS really. Hope is Verisign and he's selling you something that he doesn't own and you can call it your own but you don't really own it, particularly not after some big corporation comes around to claim your piece.

            • Like the buy a star as a gift thing? Sure, that's fine, and that registry is even for charity or astronomy funding I believe. But in that case you're buying the certificate and basically making a donation to something. This article sort of left that door open, but that's not what this guy does. He's selling land on the moon as if he actually owned it, could transfer ownership to you, and that would give you some right to it.

              Verisign sells domain name registration services under contract to organizations
    • The only way that scams will be unprofitable is when government stops "protecting" citizens and lets people learn to be aware of what they're buying.

      Actually, the only way scams will stop is when the government stops "protecting" the scam artists. A couple high profile cases of citizens taking law into their own hands on a scammer and the government looking the other way would probably take care of most of the problem. Not that I advocate that sort of thing....

    • Lastly, even if this is a scam, the potential is there for the buyer to actually own the land. I once bought a tiny parcel of land from a company with a clear title. Years later, the title came into question, yet the new other owner couldn't find any previous owner anywhere. The company I bought from went bankrupt years before, and the courts awarded me the land with maybe $500 in legal fees.

      I guess, but it sounds like software patents where someone who 'discovers' an idea and then sits on it and sue people

    • Secondly, with government so charged to "protect" consumers from scams, you'd think scams would go away. They won't. The only way that scams will be unprofitable is when government stops "protecting" citizens and lets people learn to be aware of what they're buying.

      Yes, and government trying to "protect" consumers from fake medicines or harmful medical practices are also useless. The only way it will stop is when govermnent stays out and lets people learn medicine and biochemistry for themselves and be ful
    • by Senjutsu (614542) on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:28PM (#13975584)
      Secondly, with government so charged to "protect" consumers from scams, you'd think scams would go away. They won't. The only way that scams will be unprofitable is when government stops "protecting" citizens and lets people learn to be aware of what they're buying.

      As the government doesn't actually refund the losses of any victim of scam victims (except in the vanishingly small number of cases where their money is recovered, months or years later), there is no less incentive right now to smarten up than there would be in a system under which the government didn't attempt to punish the scammer for his actions. People fall victim to scams because that's human nature, not because we have a nation of perfectly rational people who are shutting off their rationality because there's no punishment for doing so. The real world isn't a Libertarian's flight of fancy; humans are not perfectly rational actors.

      On the other hand under the current system there is less incentive for new scammers to take up the trade, while in a system absent the disincentives of government punishment, given that gullible people will still be every bit as gullible, scammers would flourish.

    • Proof of purchase helps when no title exists to the land before it. In anarchocapitalist-speak, though, you don't own land until you've mixed your labor with it and no one before you has.

      A "stake" in lunar property literally means you have to be able to stick a stake in it. You can't just say it's yours before anyone else, you have to be there in a position to utilize it. Think of the California goldrush, where the term came from. You couldn't claim the land from Boston and sue anyone who mined it, you had
  • Ahhhhh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by BTWR (540147) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (3robignacirema)> on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:37PM (#13975213) Homepage Journal
    Hope claims that while it is illegal for countries to stake a claim on the moon, it is legal for individuals and corporations to.

    Ahhh! You ended a sentence with a preposition!

  • I'm looking for a couple of acres to build my Mysterious Secret Moon Base - can I have a look at what's available?" And we thought people were stupid to fall for a Nigerian scam... This one really takes the cake. Or should that be the cheese?
  • Confucious say, Possession [joe-ks.com] is 9/10th of the law.
  • That's so charming!

    That Dennis Hope is in the right, but there are land barrons far larger than he that will simply forbid some forward-thinking guy sole possession of the next(?) land rush. Drag him into court. Make up new legislation. You name it.

    Yes, I know lunar real estate sounds crazy, but that's what capitalism is about. Assigning ownership by an individual of definable chunks of land and establishing a value for that ownership.

    No Starbucks or Indian casinos on the moon, but eventually something.
    • That might be what Capitalism is about, but it ins't going to work that way. First person on the moon that can stay can have as much land as he needs, until they build rocketships large enough to carry a battalion of tanks there.

      Remember, before capitalism comes colonization, and it is seldom peaceful.
    • Re:Bwaaahahaha! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rewt66 (738525)
      Um, sorry to burst your bubble, but...

      Claiming that you can sell something does not automatically give you the right to sell it, even under capitalism.

      You kind of gave it away in your third paragraph. "Assigning ownership to chunks of land"? Yeah, well, who assigns ownership? Dennis Hope? And who assigned ownership to him?

      In the real world, what it comes down to is that there has to be a government in control of the land, and then that government assigns (initial) ownership - either to the squatt

    • So what gives this guy the right to sell it? I proclaim in this public forum that I own all the other planets and moons in the solar system, as well as all the star systems to a radius of 1000 light years from Earth. Oh, and all the lagrange points as well. Anybody want to buy an asteroid?
  • So If (Score:2, Funny)

    by billsoxs (637329)
    So if you live in New York - you're a New Yorker. If you live in Illinois, you're an Illini.

    Soooo, if you you live on the moon are you a Mooner or a Mooni?

    Sorry - I know, a bad joke.

  • by weighn (578357) <weighnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:45PM (#13975270) Homepage
    These wags reckon they have sold 400 million acres.

    over 2 million people from 180 different countries have purchased over 400 million acres of celestial real estate-- www.lunarrealty.com.au

    - What is the surface area of the moon, in acres?
    - What GIS / LIS / DBMS are they using to track all this land?

  • Aw, shucks! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ScaryMonkey (886119) on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:45PM (#13975271)
    I already have the parts assembled for my "Whalers on the Moon" attraction...
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:45PM (#13975272) Homepage Journal
    If you get off your ass, spend billions of dollars of your own money and go land on the Moon you should have some legal right to fence off a bit of land and claim it as your own. Once you've lived on the property for some set period of time you should be free to do a geological survey and apply for mining rights. If it wasn't for homesteading laws like this the west of the United States wouldn't have been settled (and all them native americans wouldn't have been killed, but that's hardly relevant to this discussion).
  • I can sell land on Uranus?
  • The guy is right that countries are not allowed, but that it does not say explicitly that citizens are not allowed either; thus, he does have the ability to be a registering authority. The catch, of course, is that in order to be a registering authority one must have the ability to back up property disputes with force. It is the nature of people to take what they can get unless there is reasonable assurance that authority will intervene with physical force (i.e. jail, removal of property, fines, etc). In
  • by Speare (84249) on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:55PM (#13975342) Homepage Journal
    Hope claims that while it is illegal for countries to stake a claim on the moon, it is legal for individuals and corporations to.

    In the USA (ideal schoolboy optimism here), the government's powers are enumerated and the people retain the rest as their rights. That's "blacklist law" for you digit-heads: if it's on this list, you can't do it.

    In many other regimes, the individual's rights are enumerated (or never even written), and the government retains the rest as their powers. That's "whitelist law" for analogy: if it's on this list, you can do it. Guess where the China government weighs in?

    • That's "whitelist law" for analogy: if it's on this list, you can do it. Guess where the China government weighs in?

      Checkerboard - if it's on the list, you can do it, until they decide otherwise. Then it was illegal and they throw you in a hole.

    • Well, technically, the Constitution whitelists a few things (regulating commerce between the several states, conducting foreign policy, etc), blacklists everything else (see any number of laws voided for falling out of scope of defined authorities -- Violence Against Women Act, for one), and then blacklists some exceptions to the few things that were whitelisted (no matter how broadly you construe "regulate interstate commerce" you can't regulate it in such a manner as to establish a state religion, etc).
  • Calgary Full Moon Hash House Harriers invites everyone to our 1000's hash to be held on our property in our soon to be built FULL MOON BASE.

    Like all full moon hashers - we run every full moon - come moonmud, moondust or moonshine.

    So how any other Full Moon Hashes have their moonbases in planning?

    There have to be lots of hashers in /.
  • real issues here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by J05H (5625) on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:57PM (#13975362) Homepage
    I'm glad the authorities shut these jackasses down. These "lunar/martian land for sale" businesses increase the giggle-factor against any legitimate property claims in space. Sort of like AC Clarke's statement about space elevators being built 25 years after everyone stops laughing, the same can be said for extraterrestrial land ownership. People issuing fake/joke certificates of ownership is bad PR in the long run.

    Space property rights, extended ownership and salvage rules are going to be hot areas of law over the next 50+ years. We've seen some action with new spectrum allocation, but nothing to grant land-claims, yet. There was a guy trying to charge rent for NEAR landing on asteroid Eros, but he got laughed out of court. Again with the giggle-factor.

    Real challenges to establish property claims in the near future: SpaceDev has said they will emplace transponders and legally claim any asteroids they explore. Someone will figure out how to recycle rocket stages in orbit (salvage). A company flying a private lander to the moon or Mars will claim the uranium/nitrates/ice/whatever that they find at their landing site. Two probes orbitting Ceres will dismantle each other while fighting over the iceball. Those are legitimate future cases for space property issues to be resolved. Lunar acreage in 2005 is not such an issue.

    Josh
  • by }InFuZeD{ (52430) on Monday November 07, 2005 @08:59PM (#13975375) Homepage
    Haha, if you go into the store they have a "Lunar Tax" of $1.51 on everything.
    Those Lunarians are already imposing export taxes!
  • If none of the moon can be claimed by any country, on what basis can one defend a personal or corporate claim? Who's going to defend you when your claim is disputed? It is like a boat in international waters. You can "claim" a portion of internation waters if you want, but nobody is going to hornor it.

    -matthew
  • by Stephen Samuel (106962) <`samuel' `at' `bcgreen.com'> on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:05PM (#13975426) Homepage Journal
    Hope thinks a loophole exists in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty, which forbids governments from owning extraterrestrial property but fails to mention corporations or individuals.

    That's because a corporation or person can only own land in the context of government ownership -- that's why The Dutchy of Freeland exists (whatever legal name they give it) -- If they existed as a corporation sans-government, then England would have had the recognized right (under the doctrine of terra-nullis) to override the claim to the platform and re-assert sovereignty.

    This would also apply to the Lunar Embasy and it's claims. On the other hand, if the Lunar Embasy claims to to the embasy for a government that 'owns' the moon, then it falls (and fails) under the treaty.

    • Uhhh, how can you be subject to a treaty you never signed?
    • On the other hand, if the Lunar Embasy claims to to the embasy for a government that 'owns' the moon, then it falls (and fails) under the treaty.

      Not if it's not a party to the treaty. However it is still illegal to sell land on the moon, and the real reason does not require recourse to any issues of international law. There is a basic principle of law that you cannot sell what you do not own (lawyers like to use the Latin "nemo dat quod non habet" - nobody can give what they do not have). As this guy does

  • Greetings from the Lunar Embassy and the Galactic Government: Thank you for the interest in our program. My name is Dennis M. Hope. I am the founder of the Lunar Embassy and the holder of the claim of ownership for the lands we sell. In 1980 I filed a claim of ownership with the United Nations, the USA and the former USSR. The claim was for the Moon of Earth and the other eight planets and their moons. The reason I filed with the United Nations, is that the UN is the only organization on this planet th

  • Dear ,
    CONSIDER MY CONDITION
    I presume this letter will come to you as a suprise,but as things unfold,we will know each other better and how I got your contact.I will start by introducing myself to you, I am Chief Jackson Gaius Obaseki,the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive of Nigeria National Lunar Estate Corporation (NNLEC) I am very sure that you will be of a good assistance after carefully reading my letter....
  • This is all fine... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chaboud (231590) on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:15PM (#13975495) Homepage Journal
    I'm okay with people staking claims on the moon provided that a few conditions are met:
    1. Plots are assumed by flag-planting and are arranged by latitude and longitude. Polar plots are comprised of larger longitudinal sections to balance out the area covered by each plot. These plots are small (no larger than one square mile).
    2. Claim-stakers must take a standard 20 kilogram flag and plant it on the center of each plot to acquire it. That flag must be brought from sea level on Earth to the moon entirely intact (no building the flag in space). The flag must be visible from Earth once planted, and it must bear the signature of the owner. It must also be brought in person. If a robot plants the flag, that robot owns the plot.
    3. For claims to be complete, claim-stakers must return to Earth (sea level) 20 kilogram soil samples from the moon from the planting-places of their flags. This will allow indirect surveying of the moon's composition.
    4. Plots may not be sold directly. Plot owners may grant permission to other parties to lay new claim to their plots, but new claim-stakers must follow the rules governing virgin claim-stakers.
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:58PM (#13975756) Homepage Journal
      What's wrong with the existing homesteading laws? If you want to claim a plot of land on the Moon all you should have to do is go fence it and live on it. After a specific period the land becomes yours and you can apply for a title, which you can then trade with anyone you want, or you can apply for geological survey and mining rights. Sure, it currently costs billions of dollars to get to the Moon, but that hardly makes it unfair to apply the same homesteading rules there as anywhere else.
      • by Migraineman (632203)
        Apply for a title? From whom? You're making the assumption that there's an existing government in place on the moon from which you apply for title to land.

        That's crap. If you have the resources to get your butt onto the moon and establish a permanent presence, you should just declare yourself to be a sovereign state and tell the rest of the world to "f*ck off."

        Be prepared to defend your new turf, however. Nothing gets a country's attention as much as someone attempting to declare sovereignty in a ve
  • I can get you a better deal and sell you property rights to Uranus.

    Forget Pluto though. That's Disney's territory.

  • For plans on how to go about buying and selling the moon, read The Man Who Sold the Moon [wegrokit.com]. I think Robert A. Heinlein should be like a quote source in Congress and schools or something.
  • Anyone willing to take the risk and colonize the moon with some early moon-bases gets a plot of land. In turn, they get supplies from their government, and their government gets a share of resources which they will mine from the moon...
  • by dingleberrie (545813) on Monday November 07, 2005 @10:00PM (#13975760)
    Hi. I'm looking for someone to enforce my deed for lunar land. My country won't do it because it has no jurisdiction. I am trying to assemble my own army, but I have no money left since I spent most of it acquiring the entire crater out beyond the 10 mile mark of the perimeter. Please help, as my only other recourse is a contact I have in Nigeria. Thanx.
  • by servognome (738846) on Monday November 07, 2005 @10:09PM (#13975807)
    will come from the barrel of a gun. It doesn't matter what laws are passed right now, whoever gets up there first and can protect their property will rule the land. Once a presence is established you become the defacto owner, and somebody has to force you off.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday November 07, 2005 @10:51PM (#13976024)
    I've long considered the Outer Space Treaty the biggest - and most arrogant - land grab in history when our so-called governments decided that none of its citizens could own anything off of the Earth itself. In essence, they have taken the entire rest of the Universe and put it off limits for private ownership. How dare they?!

    Of course none of the Outer Space Treaty actually matters since the truth is that land, as always, will belong to he (or she) who can claim it and defend it afterwards! We don't need no stinking treaty.

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