Friday, October 28, 2005

China Investigates Moon Property Sales Scheme.

As much as we at Tales of the Heliosphere dislike the current regime in China, we've got to give it credit for opening an investigation into the legitimacy of the extraterrestrial land sale schemes of the Lunar Embassy. (See story here.) The so-called Lunar Embassy opened for business this month in China.

The company purports to sell certificates for ownership of land on the moon. The company's website (here) spouts doubletalk about what a purchase really gets the customer. On the one hand the company claims the land claim is legitimate and backs up that claim with some pretty creative and far-fetched legal mumbo jumbo. On the other hand the company claims to sell "novel" items. Note the careful use of the word "novel" as opposed to "novelty." Here's an example of the doubletalk from their website's FAQ page:
"If this is for real, why is it a novel gift?
Answer
We use this statement in two contexts: The first as defined in the American Heritage Dictionary; The quality of being novel: 1) something new and unusual and 2) a small mass-produced article. Well, a property on the Moon definitely falls into all of those categories. The second context is totally out of the Lunar Embassies own, personal paranoia, as our lawyers explained to us 25 years ago when this all started, that this can help avoid any frivolous lawsuits from a foreign country. You should know that this does not diminish the value of the property that you purchase in any way, as every deed is recorded and registered in the Lunar Embassy's registration database and every owners information is listed with that registration. You own this property."
Any potential customer should be hearing loud warning bells after reading that disclaimer.

The legal bottom line on this company is that the land claims are worthless. They might be cute gifts for space enthusiasts but they do not give the purchaser a legal claim to any property on the moon.

As long as the company was selling these fake deeds for about twenty bucks a pop the harm to the customer was minimal. We believe there is great harm to the cause of property rights in space because it makes the issue seem like a joke or a fraud. But that's a different issue.

Now, however, the company is offering membership in their so-called Century Club for $1,000. That's right, $1,000. And what comes with membership? About 2,000 acres of land on any planet where the company claims to be selling property and the chance to win a trip to Las Vegas and the company president's used sports car. We kid you not. (See site here.)

We're glad that China is investigating this scheme. We believe a jurisdiction in the United States should do the same.

-tdr

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