SpaceX frees photos of private spaceflight history (Wired UK)


NASA


Commercial spaceflight pioneer SpaceX has
bowed to public pressure to loosen its grip on images that it’s
taken in space.

The company has released more than 100 photos under a Creative
Commons license, which permits others to use them for
non-commercial purposes and create derivative works, as long as
SpaceX is given attribution.

Most photos taken in space are in the public domain, as they are
taken by Nasa — a US government agency. The US government photo
policy allows users to: “without restriction […] reproduce the
work, create derivative works […] display the work [or] distribute
copies or digitally transfer the work to the public”. Photos
available under this license include all shots of astronauts
walking on the Moon, the Blue Marble
and the Pale
Blue Dot
.

SpaceX, on the other hand, is a private company — so is not
beholden to release the photos under this license. Despite working
closely with Nasa for many years, the company is under no
obligation to make its photo freely available to the public.

But that hasn’t stopped a group of activists, including Parker
Higgins from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to campaign for
them to be released. “A robust and well-documented space program is
a major boon for motivating young people to study science,” he wrote in a blog post. “Society has gotten so much out of media
from space being free for all to share, and that shouldn’t end as
private companies get access.”

While SpaceX hasn’t yet acceded to the demand for its
photography to be gifted to the public domain, it has voluntarily
released a stack of photos from its missions on an official Flickr
feed
, with a Creative Commons BY-NC
license
 that requires attribution and prevents commercial
re-use.

That differs from the approach taken by the European Space
Agency, which Britain contributes to, which often releases its
photos
under a Creative Commons BY license
— merely requiring attribution. “Intellectual creations resulting
from the work of ESA staff members are highly valuable for Europe,”
says the ESA on its intellectual policy page, noting that its charter requires it
to share information among member states as widely as possible.

SpaceX’s commercial re-use clause, of course, means that we
can’t share the photos it has released with you — because
journalism is widely
interpreted
as a commercial activity when it comes to Creative
Commons. So we’ve attached a gallery that picks out some of our
favourite ever Nasa shots instead. We hope that you enjoy it, and
that SpaceX eventually changes its policies so we can share the
amazing work that it does with you direct.

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20 March 2015 | 1:54 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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