Elon Musk And SpaceX Just Backed Down From Earlier Promise To Release SpaceX Photos To The Public Domain
from the this-is-disappointing dept
Well, this is very disappointing. Back in 2015, you may recall that there was an effort to get SpaceX to put its photos into the public domain. As you hopefully know, all NASA photos, as works of the US government, are in the public domain — which let us post photos like this one:
But as more and more spaceflight gets privatized, there were concerns that future space photos may increasingly get locked up behind copyright.
After an initial outcry, SpaceX initially agreed to use a Creative Commons license, but one that restricted usage to non-commercial efforts. As we pointed out at the time, that really wasn’t good enough. Why does SpaceX need copyright as incentive to take photographs?
After people pointed this out to Elon Musk, he said that they had a good point and that he changed SpaceX’s policy to dedicate all the photos to the public domain. And that’s how it’s been for over four and a half years.
Until now. As Vice’s Motherboard reports, SpaceX has now gone back to a more restrictive Creative Commons license, one that says no commercial use is allowed. While using CC is better than going all out with full restrictions, this is still a very disappointing move. The company has told reporters that news organizations can still use the images, and many will have to rely on that promise. While Creative Commons has put a lot of effort into “clarifying” what is meant by “non-commercial” in recent years, including highlighting that for profit news orgs should still be able to make use of such works, that’s not really been tested in court.
And, considering that Elon Musk has an occasionally antagonistic relationship with the press, you could see an unfortunate situation in which he decides to go after a journalism organization that upsets him by claiming that they were misusing the “NC” part of the license on a SpaceX photo.
So, once again, we have to ask: why is SpaceX doing this? Why is it going back on Musk’s earlier promise that all SpaceX photos would be in the public domain? Why does SpaceX need the restrictions of copyright as an incentive to take photos? Isn’t just being able to get to space enough incentives to take some photos?