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NOAA Requires License For Photos of the Earth 311

Posted by timothy
from the agressive-product-placement dept.
Teancum writes "In an interesting show of the level of regulations private spacecraft designers have to go through, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has demanded that American participants of the Google Lunar X Prize obtain a license if their spacecraft are 'capable of actively or passively sensing the Earth's surface, including bodies of water, from space by making use of the properties of the electromagnetic waves emitted, reflected, or diffracted by the sensed objects.' What prompted NOAA to ask for this license came from a visit by the XPrize staff to the NOAA offices in Maryland. What is going to happen when 'space tourists' bring their private cameras along for the ride?"
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NOAA Requires License For Photos of the Earth

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  • Absurd! (Score:5, Funny)

    by vivaoporto (1064484) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:41PM (#24349759)
    As if RIAA and MPAA weren't enough, now this NOAA: Who's come next, AAA?
  • by xmas2003 (739875) * on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:42PM (#24349765) Homepage
    Here's the letter from NOAA to the Lunar X participants [noaa.gov] that outlines how this is pursuent to the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 - says it may take up to 120 days to obtain the license - think about that before you take your first picure! ;-)

    In the meantime, you can use existing satellite photos to image your house [komar.org] and here's a cool way to get a nifty Earth view. [fourmilab.ch]
    • by Plazmid (1132467) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:51PM (#24349871)
      Well then, looks like the winner of the Lunar X Prize won't launch in the US, and probably won't start a business here either.
      • What, really? Because it might take 4 months to get a permit? I bet that any potential space travel business will have more than a 4 month lead time from conception to launch.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zippthorne (748122)

          Yeah, but you have to have the permit that takes 4 months to get, in order to get the other permit you need, that takes 6 months to get. It's not so bad, really, when you can get them all concurrently, but when you have to prove that you've done X before they'll let you do Y, and there's a chain of these things, and at any point, a capricious "civil servant" can put the brakes on anything because he's an ass..

          Well, you can see how it takes a decade to start building a bridge or small port facility. Let al

    • by ryanisflyboy (202507) * on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:19PM (#24350121) Homepage Journal

      Here is a link to the act itself:

      http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sge/landsat/15USCch82.html [nasa.gov]

      It looks like the purpose is to protect the commercial interests of private space companies. If all the sudden people are launching rockets and giving away the data for free, that hurts space commerce. The goal here, again, is commercial. They want to create a commercial space enterprise. So while that sector is growing Uncle Sam is going to protect it.

      Because they have a policy of being "nondiscriminatory" they have to either charge everyone, or charge no one.

      However, one could argue that if your goal is non-commercial this wouldn't apply to you.

      This policy probably had good intentions, but is now very out of date.

      • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:39PM (#24350263) Homepage Journal

        It looks like the purpose is to protect the commercial interests of private space companies. If all the sudden people are launching rockets and giving away the data for free, that hurts space commerce. ... This policy probably had good intentions, but is now very out of date.

        Saying "if other people make money doing X, we're going to pass a law preventing you from doing X for free" never has good intentions. It can only be a favor to existing commercial interests in return for their lining politicians' pockets.

      • by jcwayne (995747) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:51PM (#24350357) Homepage

        I, for one, never welcomed our road to hell paving overlords.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Nope, if you read the house bill, link [loc.gov]
        And the licensing section specificially says that it requires all to get a license to 1) Protect National Security 2)Require sharing of whatever data collected with the government 3-6) Keep track of your orbit/space junk/international laws.

      • by tricorn (199664) <sep@shout.net> on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:11PM (#24352851) Journal

        Actually, the interest seems to be in PROMOTING it by making it available and regulating it so it is not a free-for-all, not "protecting it" it the way you're saying. There certainly needs to be SOME regulation, you don't want people sending up satellites in any-old-orbit, transmitting on any-old-frequency, shining laser lights down at your favorite observatory, or whatever...

        Without such regulations, you'd be in a situation where they'd probably simply prohibit all such activities. Regulations like this are designed to PERMIT things to happen, while retaining enough control that it isn't chaotic. I didn't see any reference in the regulations to a fee for such a license.

        The regulations in this part are intended to:
        (1) Preserve the national security of the United States;
        (2) Observe the foreign policies and international obligations of the United States;
        (3) Advance and protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by maintaining U.S. leadership in remote sensing space activities, and by sustaining and enhancing the U.S. remote sensing industry;
        (4) Promote the broad use of remote sensing data, their information products and applications;
        (5) Ensure that unenhanced data collected by licensed private remote sensing space systems concerning the territory of any country are made available to the government of that country upon its request, as soon as such data are available and on reasonable commercial terms and conditions as appropriate;
        (6) Ensure that remotely sensed data are widely available for civil and scientific research, particularly environmental and global change research; and
        (7) Maintain a permanent comprehensive U.S. government archive of global land remote sensing data for long-term monitoring and study of the changing global environment.

        As for the space tourist taking along a camera, that's not "remote sensing".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TapeCutter (624760) *
          Yes, the knee-jerk reaction seems to be "license == BadThing(TM)" or maybe "Govt. steals PRIVATE data" but without laws specifiying that certain clauses must be included in the license we would be left with the default copyright laws which I think most people here would agree are unacceptable for trashy romance novels let alone unique raw data sets concerning our home planet. Perhaps private companies in the mold of Disney would decline to take part becuse they have to share data about our planet, but IMHO
  • Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jrwr00 (1035020) <<jrwr00> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:42PM (#24349769) Homepage

    Um, Wow i didnt think you could copyright THE EARTH.. What next? The Moon!

    • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@g m a il.com> on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:44PM (#24349795) Homepage Journal

      That's the Budweiser Moon© now, they paid for the naming rights.

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

      by dattaway (3088) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:48PM (#24349839) Homepage Journal

      Um, Wow i didnt think you could copyright THE EARTH.. What next? The Moon!

      I'm sorry, but the Moon is a registered trademark according to the USPTO. Seriously. 9482 entries with "Moon"

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Zadaz (950521)

        I'm sorry, but the Moon is a registered trademark according to the USPTO. Seriously. 9482 entries with "Moon"

        Though to be fair most of those are innovative new ways to drop your pants. The rest are owned by the Chattanooga Bakery [wikipedia.org] for it's chocolate dipped gram cracker and marshmallow snacks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      M-O-O-N, that spells Pepsi®!

    • You can't; if it was a copyright issue, (a) they'd be laughed out of court, but (b) they could in theory try to make it apply to teams located in any country that's signed the Berne Convention. Which they're not. It's just the Americans they're pulling this bullshit on.
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

        by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:57PM (#24350425) Journal

        Actually, almost all countries with a space program have a similar rule/law. They want to know who is taking images of potentially secrete spots like military bases or missile silos and what they will be used for. Almost all commercial satellites had to go through this too. The 1992 law is just the recent carnation of it. The previous act which was in 1984 or so maintained that the government owned all private satellites with these capabilities and held the potential to censor images. Before the 1984 act, there wasn't to many commercial satellites with this capability.

        This is actually part of the import/export controls on technology (ITAR). Any company under US jurisdiction wanting to mess with a satellite or anything going into space has to deal with it. It isn't hard to do but it does require time and a little amount of effort. The reason NOAA contacted participants of the Google Xprize program is because they didn't seem to be aware of it. But any launch authorization will require a statement to these capabilities and if present, a permit of any part of the company is connected to US jurisdiction.

        I imagine as private space flight and tourism becomes more available, the laws will be changed someone to make it a: more apparent and b: to accommodate new demands from these flights and their passengers.

  • What will happen? (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Man (684) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:43PM (#24349783) Homepage
    Well, in order to understand what will happen with this sort of thing, one first needs to understand why so many banks are headquartered in Bermuda, Macao, Jersey, and Guernsey and why shipping companies are so often headquartered in the Marshall Islands. Once you understand that, you'll know the outcome of US policy on private space travel.
  • by twatter (867120) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:46PM (#24349811)

    The Space sensing act of when??

    Is the US government the only entity that can image the planet from orbit?

    What, are they scared I might take a photo of the aliens in Area51?

    And what if I'm snapping away at Africa? Australia?

    Do I go to jail or what??

    Ridiculous.

    • by taniwha (70410)
      just so long as it isn't Israel - half the act seems to have to do with there
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:10PM (#24350057)

      it's not ridiculous at all.
      when you think about it, taking a photo of the earth from space isn't (conceptually) any different from walking into a store a stealing a CD.

      • After all, illegally distributing CDs from Space would be the equivalent of having 1,000,000,000 CD burners. Don't ask how I obtained this estimate. The RIAA doesn't know how it gets their either!

      • by MacTO (1161105)
        Well, I think it would be rather obvious if someone made a 50 km wide telescope in order to read that Earth-bound CD from the Moon.
  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:46PM (#24349819)

    This is because Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 and its implementing regulations require any person subject to the jurisdiction or control of the United States who operates or proposes to operate a private remote sensing space system that images the Earth, and/or establishes substantial connections with the United States regarding the operation of such a system to obtain a license from NOAA.

    Blame this, the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 [nasa.gov]

    • And this (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bananatree3 (872975) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:47PM (#24349825)
    • by Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @05:38PM (#24351433)

      I actually remember this Act being passed - Flight International ran several articles about it, back in the days when they had worthwhile spaceflight coverage. I think Tim Furniss was their spaceflight correspondent at the time.

      The Act had several goals. Prior to 1992 there was no straightforward oversight of US-operated remote sensing systems. There was a terrible hullabaloo about Landsat, which required all sorts of regulatory exceptions and special handling, not only for its on-orbit ops but also for the radio links ( FCC was also involved ). The Act was intended to simplify the application for authorisation.

      The Act was also intended to make the USA an attractive base for remote sensing operations, thereby retarding the advance of technology in the rest of the World. Again, this was to be achieved by providing a clear regulatory framework to avoid ambiguity and encouraging the dissemination of approved imagery as a US commercial advantage.

      Finally, of course, there were the ``security'' considerations. The military didn't make too much of this, considering that at that very point in time they were buying Kometa imagery from the Russians ( they used Soviet / Russian photos of Washington to plan Dolittle's funeral )

  • by Shaitan Apistos (1104613) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:47PM (#24349827)
    I can totally understand this, If my Florida was flapping in the breeze I wouldn't want people taking snapshots either.
  • by Steve1952 (651150) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:48PM (#24349831)
    This is actually for real. See:

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c102:1:./temp/~c1029W3AOE:e25773 [loc.gov]:

    SEC. 202. CONDITIONS FOR OPERATION.

    (a) LICENSE REQUIRED FOR OPERATION- No person who is subject to the jurisdiction or control of the United States may, directly or through any subsidiary or affiliate, operate any private remote sensing space system without a license pursuant to section 201.

    (b) LICENSING REQUIREMENTS- Any license issued pursuant to this title shall specify that the licensee shall comply with all of the requirements of this Act and shall--

    (1) operate the system in such manner as to preserve the national security of the United States and to observe the international obligations of the United States in accordance with section 506;

    (2) make available to the government of any country (including the United States) unenhanced data collected by the system concerning the territory under the jurisdiction of such government as soon as such data are available and on reasonable terms and conditions;

    (3) make unenhanced data designated by the Secretary in the license pursuant to section 201(e) available in accordance with section 501;

    (4) upon termination of operations under the license, make disposition of any satellites in space in a manner satisfactory to the President;

    (5) furnish the Secretary with complete orbit and data collection characteristics of the system, and inform the Secretary immediately of any deviation; and

    (6) notify the Secretary of any agreement the licensee intends to enter with a foreign nation, entity, or consortium involving foreign nations or entities.

    • completely unconstitutional. Not only does it violate freedom of the press, but Congress has no constitutional authority to create such a law.
      • by Steve1952 (651150)

        Well they did it. Of course it may be unconstitutional, but since its a "national security" thing, the courts may not want to get involved.

        All in all, the license for a few pixel image from the moon should be trivial to get. Just a bit of extra useless paperwork.

      • by EvilIdler (21087)

        Of course they have! And the law shall apply to the entire world!

      • by AJWM (19027)

        Read again the bit about international obligations. Congress has consitutional authority to pass laws in accordance with treaties that the US has entered into. It's a nice loophole that lets them step around other parts of the constitution if they really want to (just get the treaty negotiated first), not unlike the interstate commerce clause.

        Ultimately the Supreme Court may rule otherwise, of course, but getting to that point is not an easy or cheap process.

        Not sure what any of that has to do with freed

        • by msauve (701917)
          You confuse access (Area 51) to free press. If you have pictures, you can publish them. The gov't cannot infringe upon civil rights through treaties.

          I can be pragmatic, and recognize that there are many Federal laws which are clearly unconstitutional, yet still exist and are enforced. The entire body of regulatory "law" is one example - Congress has no authority to deligate its powers. That only proves that we are not a nation of law.
          • by AJWM (19027)

            No, you confuse access (launching satellites that can take pictures) with free press. The NOAA licensing is not about what you do with the pictures later, it's about taking them in the first place. To the extent that it is restricting what you do with them, that's you voluntarily giving up some rights to obtain access in the first place -- nothing unconstitutional about that.

            Not that I necessarily disagree with the rest of your comment.

            • by msauve (701917)
              the "license" is not to launch a rocket, it's to take a picture.
              Beyond which, where in the Constitution is the Federal Government given the right to restrict non-interstate, non-foreign travel? Nowhere.
    • by baby_robots (990618) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:02PM (#24349993)
      It seems like it would be hard to enforce jurisdiction in space when we don't even have jurisdiction 10 miles off our coastline.
      • by Original Replica (908688) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:39PM (#24350257) Journal
        It seems like it would be hard to enforce jurisdiction in space

        But that's really the whole point you see; extending government jurisdiction into space. Suppose Virgin Galactic builds a space hotel, is it an independent nation? A privately owned holding not subject to any man made laws? What about 100 years from now, I'm sure the governments of Earth would prefer to have control over Lunar He3 resources. [wisc.edu] To do that they need to start slowly establishing authority in space. Next, any space hotel will be declared to be under the control of the home nation of the corporation that builds/operates it. Then that nation just expands it's sphere of influence in the name of security,exploration and manifest destiny. Really it's just a land grab.
    • My response? See figure one.

      http://www.things.org/~jym/fun/see-figure-1.html [things.org]

  • This is so utterly ridiculous that I lack words to describe my reaction.

    It's not copyright... but it acts like copyright. Sort of.

    For the second time in two days, all I can say is: what a crock.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:48PM (#24349851)

    That would seem to include eyesight. I guess everyone will need to fly blind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:52PM (#24349881)

    The rest of the world is nowadays inclined to treat american laws with a huge "fuck you".

    Seriously, the russians (already doing it) and - god help us all - the british (virgin) are the ones already strongly involved in private space tourism. America sucks so much these days.

  • by ribit (952003) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:53PM (#24349885)
    Definition 5 from the regulations: "The term 'land remote sensing' means the collection of data which can be processed into imagery of surface features of the Earth from an unclassified satellite or satellites, other than an operational United States Government weather satellite." It appears to only apply to 'satellites'?
    • by Mateorabi (108522)
      So as long as your orbital trajectory intersects a space body (earth, moon, sun, etc.) you are OK? You are also OK if you have reached escape velocity? Any other trajectory is in orbit arround something in the solar system and hence a satellite of that something. Also, I guess no pictures from the moon, which is a natrual and (one would hope) unclassified satellite of earth.
    • by Pig Hogger (10379)

      Definition 5 from the regulations: "The term 'land remote sensing' means the collection of data which can be processed into imagery of surface features of the Earth from an unclassified satellite or satellites, other than an operational United States Government weather satellite." It appears to only apply to 'satellites'?

      Well, if you jump and take a picture while in freefall, you need a licence because you are a satellite. Don't forget that your orbit happens to intersect the surface of the Earth...

  • What is going to happen when "space tourists" bring their private cameras along for the ride?"
      Easy answer : but the spaceport in a country where freedom mean something and don't take photo of USA, nothing to see, nothing to photography here anyway. Sad but true.

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @02:57PM (#24349935) Journal
    What are they gonna do, shoot down your satellites? Doubtful. They have NO AA.
    • by Chrontius (654879)

      Actually, they do have ASAT weapons. Remember the satellite we shot down after talk that the hydrazine tank would impact intact like an orbit-to-surface bomb?

      Hm, actually, I'm suddenly detecting a new motive for that shootdown. I for one wouldn't like to give away the results of the first study on my new strategic weapons system... anyone hear about the idea to put kinetic weapons on sub-launched ICBMs?

  • What makes taking a photo at 200 km different than taking it at 2km? Why the hell would you need to obtain a license from NOAA just because you go above some arbitrarily defined altitude?

    However you put it, it's rather difficult to "actively or passively sensing the Earth's surface, including bodies of water" at any distance without resorting to the "use of the properties of the electromagnetic waves emitted, reflected, or diffracted by the sensed objects".

    And what makes the Earth so fucking special in the

  • Space is by definition a international territory. As such the laws that NOAA sites don't apply in space (they do in the U.S but not in space). Furthermore this would never stand up in court if they where to test it, that is my opinion. But I am not a lawyer and I don't live in the U.S.

    U.S don't own space, even if NOAA seems to think so.

    • by Dredd13 (14750) <dredd@megacity.org> on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:55PM (#24350403) Homepage

      Space is by definition a international territory. As such the laws that NOAA sites don't apply in space (they do in the U.S but not in space).

      True, but a US citizen/corporation can be punished (whether this is "morally right" or not I am not debating) for actions they take outside the country.

      For example, if a US citizen travels to Cuba and spends money "in Cuban jurisdiction", the law forbidding the spending of money in Cuba is not "in effect" because the US doesn't run Cuba, but when the US citizen gets back on home soil, you can bet that los federales will want a word with them.

      It's only a matter of time before Americans begin getting busted for "driving too fast" on the Autobahn, or "inhaling illicit materials" in Amsterdam.

      But, if you're a US citizen, these are the laws you've allowed yourself to be subject to, stupid as they are.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:20PM (#24350123) Homepage Journal
    Cruise agencies, bus companies, airline companies do not require licenses or royalties for photos that are shot by their customers.

    you cant either. probably the underlying reason is NOONE CAN COPYRIGHT/PATENT EARTH

    so cut the crap.
    • by Dahamma (304068)

      You seem to be assuming that copyrights, patents, licenses etc. are some sort of universal force of nature (also, the NOAA doesn't pass the laws, Congress does. The NOAA enforces them.)

      Of course they can require a license to take photos of the Earth from space, just like they can require a license for you to get married, drive a car, or own a dog. Why? Because stupid or not, we gave our government the power to require them. Feel free to ignore these laws, but don't expect your rational arguments to make

      • by unity100 (970058)
        this is not a stupid 'government is evil' republican viewpoint debate.

        social organization, central and local governments are the concepts we invented to get us out of goddamn caves and up into the sky.

        the abuse of these concepts are causing those stupid 'you need license to take picture of everest' shit. its NOT the fault of government concept or anything. its the fault of PEOPLE YOU ELECT/LET INTO THOSE OFFICES.
  • BWAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!

    We. Don't. Think. So.

    RS

  • by budword (680846) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:33PM (#24350207)
    All Soviet jokes aside, anyone notice how much the United States is resembling more and more the old school buffoons of the USSR ? It was illegal to possess accurate maps in the old USSR, to protect state secrets. Now we have the US claim you need a license to take a picture of the earth. It's just a 21st century version of screaming, "Papers Please". I for one, don't hail our old overlords.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      We actually become more like the USSR every day, actually I know people that lived in the soviet bloc for most of their lives, and when I ask them about resemblances between the US and their (basically) communist dictatorships they have a lot to say. For example, they see mass media in the US as an echo of media propoganda in the eastern bloc and such. It's pretty crazy, but our country is going to shit in more ways than one.
  • by AJWM (19027)

    I agree that the whole concept of applying this to Lunar X-prize entrants is ludicrous, but if the law is on the books then NOAA has to at least pay lip service to it.

    The question is, how much does the license cost? Back in the day, you needed an FCC license to operate a CB radio, and you still do to operate some bands/power levels of GRS radios (walky-talkies). But the license was just a registration thing - send in your application (I don't even recall it costing anything, maybe a couple bucks) and the

  • I wasn't aware that the NOAA owned the Earth, maybe that's why aliens aren't coming and checking us out, they can't get a currency exchange for their buckazoids to get the outrageous license.

  • by daemonburrito (1026186) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:36PM (#24350243) Journal

    This is law, and is totally out of the control of NOAA.

    I've done a lot of work with NOAA and NOAA datasets and this sort of thing happens a lot, because of businesses who believe that "the government should not be in the business of distributing data". Predictably, they lobby congress. FWIW, I've witnessed NOAA passively resist this bullshit as much as they can.

    BTW, if you find this sort thing disgusting (as I do), stop going to weather.com and accu-weather. They are the worst offenders. Every couple of years they try to shut down NOAA ftp servers so they can be the gatekeepers of taxpayer-funded data (like maps).

    This law, in particular, is a piece of a strategy that didn't work in the early 90s, thanks in large part to career people at NOAA. They got this law passed, but they weren't able to shut down the ftp servers.

    Please don't blame the NOAA people. Blame the businesses like weather.com and accu-weather, and blame a bribable congress.

  • by PhysicsPhil (880677) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @03:47PM (#24350313)

    Even for Slashdot, this is an overreaction. This is nothing more or less than a country having a law on the books that, read literally, applies to a situation that nobody envisioned when the law was originally written.

    When you read the law in question, it was meant to regulate satellite operators from giving space images of sensitive American installations to not-so-friendly people. Seems pretty reasonable not to want the ABC Satellite Company to give high resolution images of military facilities to the Russians and Chinese, doesn't it? Unfortunately the way it was drafted it also applies to space tourists.

    The law isn't stupid, it's just broader than anyone realized at the time Stupidity would be actually prosecuting anyone for taking a few snapshots out the spacecraft window without a license.

    My hometown still has a law on the books that cars aren't allowed to scare the horses travelling down Main Street. Anyone want to get up in arms about that one while we're at it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by plasmacutter (901737)

      The law isn't stupid, it's just broader than anyone realized at the time Stupidity would be actually prosecuting anyone for taking a few snapshots out the spacecraft window without a license.

      I think they realized exactly what they were doing..

      DMCA anyone?

      a quote from the post above yours.

      This law, in particular, is a piece of a strategy that didn't work in the early 90s, thanks in large part to career people at NOAA. They got this law passed, but they [private services like accu-weather] weren't able to shut down the ftp servers.

    • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @09:04PM (#24353337)

      My hometown still has a law on the books that cars aren't allowed to scare the horses travelling down Main Street. Anyone want to get up in arms about that one while we're at it?

      If I were living in your town, I certainly might complain if some heavily lobbied government group suddenly started forcing people to buy licenses based on that law.

      -FL

  • Prior Art! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by brianc (11901)

    Apollo 8 Earthrise Dec 1968
    From Gooogle Images [google.com]

    And the first TV photo of Earth [nasa.gov] from TIROS 1 on 1 April 1960.
    (April Fools Day- how apropos)

  • That's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration...

    Space is definitely outside of your jurisdiction, especially once they've crossed into space outside of U.S. borders...

  • legally speaking (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gryftir (161058) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @05:02PM (#24351065) Homepage

    A review of the law indicates that the secretary of commerce only has statutory authority to require licenses for private remote sensing. The relevant passage is:

    "In the case of a private space system that is used for remote sensing and other purposes, the authority of the Secretary under this subchapter shall be limited only to the remote sensing operations of such space system."

    While land remote sensing is defined, the statutory authority is limited to private remote sensing, which is not defined. A clear english reading would seem to indicate space tourists snapping pictures with their cameras are not engaging in remote sensing.

    Even if land remote sensing, and private remote sensing are ruled to the be the same, land remote sensing is defined in terms of satellites, which means any space vehicle which does not enter into orbit does not require any license.

    Of course the main argument for ruling that land remote sensing and private remote sensing are the same is to speak to the intent of Congress. The whole point of the licensing is to provide for commercial competition to the LandSat system, which tourists don't seem to qualify for.

    The act, in any case, allows, in the case of adverse action, for people to ask the secretary of commerce to review the matter, and to bring it to the courts after he gives his final opinion, if they still don't like it.

  • No Jurisdiction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @06:29PM (#24351905) Homepage Journal

    The NOAA doesn't have any jurisdiction outside the US to require a license for anything done there. Spacecraft orbiting over the US are not part of the US, despite simpleminded interpretations of "air rights" regulation. Electromagnetic waves coming from the Earth's surface outside US boundaries are not subject to any NOAA jurisdiction. And NOAA doesn't have jurisdiction over electromagnetic waves coming from private property, or publicly viewable surfaces of any government property, whether publicly physically accessible like parks and roads or even the outside of NOAA buildings.

    In fact, I don't see anywhere in the Constitution where NOAA has any power to regulate anything, certainly not photography of objects viewable by people who are standing somewhere legally.

    NOAA can take its license requirement and stick it up its... er, NOAA doesn't even have one of those.

    • When considering questions of Jurisdiction like this, certain thorny questions arise. Is there 'no' law in space? Could you 'legally' commit murder in space?

      There is a historical precedent for dealing with a similar question which arose in Maritime law - does any country have any legal authority on ocean-going vessels in international waters? People, fundamentally, don't want to lose all protection of law in such situations.

      I don't really know much about Maritime law, but my basic understanding is that ever

  • by flyneye (84093) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @11:12AM (#24358059) Homepage

    The complete height of hubris,to License(permission)to take pictures of the planet we stand on and share.
            This is completely overboard and out of the realm of the constitutional place of the government.
            The only way to end this is to ignore it and take all the pictures you want.They don't own it so screw em.If they try to enforce it resist even up to firearms.This is the patriotic way of telling the government where to get off.Revolution.
                If more people revolted at the governments folly rather than rolling over and taking it in the ass,we would have less rather than more interference from big brother at the cost of their lives.
                      Complete bullshit,get a rope!

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