SpaceX Photos Now Using Creative Commons License… But With Restrictions

from the almost,-but-not-quite dept

Last month, we noted how unfortunate it was that, unlike NASA photos which are automatically in the public domain, photos taken by private space company SpaceX, would be covered by copyright. We asked SpaceX founder Elon Musk to declare SpaceX’s photos in the public domain. The company has not quite done so, but has now agreed to offer them up under a restrictive Creative Commons license, as reported by Jason Koebler at Vice’s Motherboard. SpaceX has put up a Flickr feed with the images, but is unfortunately using a CC BY-NC 2.0 license, meaning that it bars commercial use.

This is, certainly, better than nothing, and better than locking down the photos entirely. But, it is still problematic, in that barring commercial use could limit the ability of important analysis by companies. Yes, it also stops some company coming in and trying to publish a book or sell those photos, but is that really a big concern by SpaceX? Why should the company even be worried about that? It seems like this is a case where SpaceX would be better off using a CC0 public domain dedication to make it clear that the images are available however people want (or, at the very least dropping the “commercial” use restriction).

Again, Elon Musk has recognized the value of completely freeing Tesla’s patents, which are certainly a lot more central to Tesla’s business than SpaceX’s photos — so hopefully the company will continue to move towards freeing these images as well.

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Companies: spacex

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Comments on “SpaceX Photos Now Using Creative Commons License… But With Restrictions”

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10 Comments
Jason says:

I don't know...

…but I’m not sure I can get too worked up about this. SpaceX is a private company, and I can’t quite find myself feeling too put out by them not releasing all of the pictures they took—however cool they may be—for completely unrestricted use, just because they happen to involve or have been taken from space.

It’s not as though the license precludes any use by other companies; it disallows any use “primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation”. (Yes, that’s a gray area, to be sure.) But SpaceX wouldn’t necessarily have had to release any pictures at all. They may not have any particularly noble reason for releasing them, but from where I sit, it doesn’t strike me as all that out of line to ask that other companies aren’t able to take advantage of them for doing so. That might be unlikely, but if it had happened, no doubt the next batch of images would have never made its way to the public at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

in that barring commercial use could limit the ability of important analysis by companies

Considering that the bulk of the photos are to allow Spaces to look at how their space craft performed, is that so bad. It is not like they are flying space telescopes, lunar or planetary surveys, or at least not yet.

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