Monday, March 19, 2007

Good News From China: Lunar Embassy Loses Again.

The Lunar Embassy is an embarrassing joke of a company that purports to sell deeds for land on the Moon and other planets. It operates freely in the United States because a country that popularized the pet rock is not going to worry too much about a company selling phony deeds to property on the Moon.

China has turned out to be a bit less laissez faire. When the Lunar Embassy tried to sell its phony deeds to Chinese consumers, the government shut down the company's operations almost immediately. The Lunar Embassy sued, and then after losing, the company appealed to an intermediate appellate court. "On Friday, the Beijing intermediate court rejected its appeal, saying no individual or country could claim ownership of the moon." (Here.)

The Chinese court's decision on the merits is not the most interesting part of this story. Under current international law, people can't claim ownership of the moon. One day that may change but the Lunar Embassy's novelty act won't be leading the way. If anything, by perpetuating the idea that owning property in space is a novelty gift or a joke, the Lunar Embassy is an impediment to changing the law.

The most interesting aspects of the Lunar Embassy in China saga are how quickly the Chinese government moved to protect its consumers and how the legal proceedings in China mirror our own. There is rule of law in China.


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"Under current international law, people can't claim ownership of the moon."

I assume that you're talking about the Moon Treaty (1979) here. It says that signatory governments can't claim ownership of the moon, but it doesn't say anything about private individuals.

If I land a robot on the moon and start mining, the resources extracted belong to me.
Actually, I was thinking of the Outer Space Treaty. I don't disagree with your hypothetical. But owning extracted resources, as in your hypothetical, or, to cite an historical example, Moon rocks brought back to Earth by American astronauts, is not the same as owning parcels of property on the Moon.
I really don`t know who gives them authorizations to do such things. I just know that they are nobody, just nobody and nothing to sell something that doesn`t belong to them. If this happens, It`s normal to be accused and to go to court. I wonder what are playing? Who they think they are?
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