Last month, SpaceX launched its first deep space mission when the Falcon 9 rocket carried the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite into orbit.
The mission resulted in some remarkable images being made public, but it also led some commentators to note a possible downside to the new era of privately-funded space exploration. Unlike the photos produced by every NASA mission, all SpaceX photos wouldn’t be in the public domain. NASA photos are generally public domain by default, since works created by the US federal government or its employees can’t be copyrighted.
At the time, Mike Masnick at Techdirt wrote an open letter to Elon Musk, suggesting the best solution would be for the owner of SpaceX to simply put the images in the public domain. Musk has recognized the value of a robust public domain in other contexts, such as when he pledged not to enforce any of Tesla’s patents on electric car technology.
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