from the help-the-public-out dept
But... as we've discussed, copyright questions can get a lot more murky up in space. A couple years ago Glenn Fleishman spent some time digging through some of these items in analyzing the copyright issues of Commander Chris Hadfield singing a David Bowie song in space. From there, we find that there have actually been a few papers written about these questions, including Space Copyright Law: The New Dimension.
That paper raises a number of issues, including questioning whether an image "taken by a robot device without any human input of selection" won't be deserving of copyright because it lacks human authorship (remember the monkey selfie). But that may not be the case here. A human may have very much been involved in selecting the images from SpaceX, so they could very well be covered by copyright. Thus, we're back to the situation we feared: these shots are covered by copyright.
Of course, that doesn't mean that the story is over. There is a clearer answer, which is to have SpaceX declare that it will put the images from its spacecraft into the public domain as well. After all, this is the same Elon Musk who recognizes that patents often hold back innovation, and has thus agreed to free up all of Tesla's (and who has also admitted that SpaceX didn't spend much effort on patents). So he already recognizes that perhaps overprotecting via intellectual property is a bad idea.
So, now he can do the same thing with respect to those photos. While it's not a perfect solution, Musk can (and should) make use of something like the CC0 public domain declaration offered by Creative Commons to make it clear that these photos should be treated the same way that NASA's images are: as public domain materials for everyone to use.