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Lord British Claims He Owns the Moon 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-the-property-tax dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Following the recent discovery of Richard Garriott's old moon rover, the man known as Lord British has laid claim to his own lunar territory. Moon dwellers, all hail your new overlord!"
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Lord British Claims He Owns the Moon

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  • by necro81 (917438) on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:17PM (#31662436) Journal
    So if another probe lands in the vicinity, or roves its away across the supposed territory, would Lord British then have grounds to sue for ruining the property values? "Good Lord, man, look at what you've done! All those tracks ruin the pristine scenery!"
  • As headlines go, this is into the 'warner bros cartoon' surreal territory. What's next? 'Lord British holds earth to ransom from his moon fortress!'
    • Actually, if I were to guess what next, it would be "Lord British accuses cabbages of conspiring to invade his lunar domain." ;)

      • Have you not seen Red Planet?

        The nematodes ate all the cabbage, and they destroyed his probe.

    • by elynnia (815633)
      "Garriott added that his assertion is somewhat tongue in cheek."
      -a less dodgy source [space.com]
    • What's next? 'Lord British holds earth to ransom from his moon fortress!

      I don't know, but if I see this guy, I'll be tempted to start an interorbital* war by punching the moon's ambasador. Not that I bear any ill will to the guy, just want to get into the history books.

      *I suppose I should learn what type of war I'll be starting, and this is probably a good place to find that out. What would that be called? I mean, besides assault. Intrasolar system war? Intertidal orbit war?

    • Yeah. He's gonna be real pissed when Marvin destroys the Earth moon system to enhance his view of Venus...
  • TFA (Score:3, Funny)

    by gazbo (517111) on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:19PM (#31662464)
    Who the fuck wrote that article? The spelling, grammar and flow would suggest it was a retarded foetus.
    • Well, the elegance of your wording will surely lead to some positive feedback.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by rubycodez (864176)

      The poor foetus was a lobotomite, you insensitive clod.

  • Actually, his quote in the article claims "...territory - at the very least around my rover and, potentially, along its point of travel". He does not appear to be claiming that he owns the entire moon.
  • This claim may be new to the submitter, and to Soulskill, but not to Slashdot. [slashdot.org]

  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:22PM (#31662506)
    In other news, a man named 'Rainz' bought the plot next to British on the moon, and wondered if Lord British wanted some bread as a housewarming present.
  • Since he can't hack it as a game developer anymore I guess he's got to do something with the millions he's scammed, er, earned over the years.
  • and that very same though was what goes through my mind why the space race went so frantically up until the point the american flag was planted in the moon, and since then, no other country bothered to go. I know that there are covenants that say such territory ownerships do not cover the moon, but they said the same thing about the Arctic Circle and that didn't stop Russia from making a territorial claim. Who knows, maybe they find oil or diamonds under the lunar surface and the US might just one day say
    • by Artifakt (700173)

      If the US manages to emplace enough population to let Luna qualify for immediate statehood, ahead of anyone else occupying the land, I'm not sure there's anything in the UN treaty excluding doing it. Claiming it as an annexed territory is one thing, having its permanent inhabitants petition for statehood is constitutionally very much another.
       

  • Not Bloody Likely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by careysub (976506) on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:35PM (#31662700)

    Garriott may or may not own a legal title to Lunokhod (it is by no means a given that the auction sale was a legitimate title), but there is no way buying Lunokhod gives him any ownership rights to any piece of the Moon, however small.

    From http://www.space.com/news/soviet-moon-rover-space-law-100322.html [space.com]:

    Validity of ownership?
    Enter space lawyer, Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz. She is Director of the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law and Research Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi.
    "The soundness of a property right depends in large part on the integrity of the documents that memorialize the right," Gabrynowicz told SPACE.com via email. "This is why property buyers conduct title searches before buying property. They want to be sure that the title is good."
    Gabrynowicz said that without reading the papers or knowing how they were processed and by whom, she can't speak to the validity of the ownership of a space object purchased at auction.
    "However, a contention that buying a space object that landed on the lunar surface from a sovereign nation gives rise to a property right to the territory under it is wrong," Gabrynowicz said.
    Gabrynowicz said that States-Parties to the Outer Space Treaty of 1966 cannot acquire lunar territory by landing an object on the moon.
    "The USSR was and Russia is a party to the Outer Space Treaty," she added. "It did not acquire the territory under the object when it landed. One cannot sell what one does not own. Since USSR/Russia did not have a property right to the territory under the landed object, there was nothing to sell."

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      "The USSR was and Russia is a party to the Outer Space Treaty," she added. "It did not acquire the territory under the object when it landed. One cannot sell what one does not own. Since USSR/Russia did not have a property right to the territory under the landed object, there was nothing to sell."

      The treaty only applies to nations, not individuals who purchase something from a nation so I suspect that angle is pretty useless. I'm suspecting a better "he doesn't own anything" angle would be 1) the rover is non-functional or 2) owning a dead rover on the moon is like owning the wreck of a chevy impala on Mars, you'd have a hard time protecting "your" property from the first person who actually made it up there.

      • by careysub (976506)

        The treaty only applies to nations, not individuals who purchase something from a nation so I suspect that angle is pretty useless.

        All ownership rights arise within a system of laws - international law or national law (which assumes also an international legal structure that preserves national rights) . No national law can give him ownership, so you are asserting there is an international statute or legal principle that gives a private individual property rights possessed by no sovereign nation, and is in fact specifically denied them? Please provide information about this novel legal principle.

        I note that you appear to be attempting t

        • by GNT (319794)

          Well, not a political fantasy since the US did originate in the traditional fashion, which is homesteading, which in turn owes its pre-eminent exposition to Locke. So in point of fact, the superseding legal principle is controlling and advancing the value of the land in question, whether here or on Mars or the Moon.

          • by careysub (976506)

            Well, not a political fantasy since the US did originate in the traditional fashion, which is homesteading, which in turn owes its pre-eminent exposition to Locke. So in point of fact, the superseding legal principle is controlling and advancing the value of the land in question, whether here or on Mars or the Moon.

            Political fantasy - whether authored by Locke or anyone else. You do realize that Locke is not the basis of property law anywhere I hope? Homesteaders obtained title from the United States Government (or earlier from the King of the United Kingdom). Special acts of Congress (Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, The Homestead Act of 1862, etc.) were necessary to allow homesteading in new areas.

    • Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz.... Space Lawyer!!

    • space lawyer

      Now there's a job title with a B-movie behind it...

    • Most people around here are taking Garriott's bait and are picking apart the legal ramifications of his rover ownership, but it's much simpler than that. You own something if you can defend it. I.e., you have an army. Treaties are meaningless outside the context of force. Ever wonder why making someone follow a contract is called 'enforcement'?

      And, because R.A.H. is taken as Gospel around here: the moon dwellers didn't gain sovereignty until they showed that they could pummel the bejeezus out of Eart
      • by jheath314 (916607)

        Really? I thought the point of the legal system was to avoid all this "might makes right" chaos that would prevail without the law. No wonder your post was modded "insightful"!

        I'm going to start working out and arming myself to the teeth. If my neighbor cannot defend his claim to his swimming pool, well then I guess it's MY swimming pool now.

        • by raddan (519638) *
          You only think that because you're a citizen of a country with a very large army. Those are rules that the country decides for itself, on land that it claims as a part of its sovereign property. And it should be added that there is a police force that enforces those rules among citizens.

          Live someplace with a weak government and you'll see what I mean.
  • (subject says it all...)

  • I guess I could be wrong, but I have a feeling he is kinda joking around when he made the cracks about having people pay to "park in his spot." I find it hard to believe that he is being serious about having real claim to any moon property (other than the landers, themselves). Am I the only one thinking he is just goofing off with such statements?

  • The American Flag (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by DigiShaman (671371)

    Well, if you want to place this game, the Lord can pound luna soil. The American's landed and placed a national Flag on the surface of the moon. So technically, it's property of the USA.

  • I'm pretty sure it's Eolas that owns all of the lunar intellectual property.

    (We like da moon / and it is pa-ten-ted...)
  • 'Nuff said.

  • Here is the proof!
    in English [wikipedia.org] and Spanish (more complete) [wikipedia.org]

    Don't argue with me about Wikipedia not being the total truth.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wow. No fact checking. Typical over-the-top-can't-get-the-facts-right journalism. The article tries to paint Lord British as laying claim to the entire moon, in the title, when in reality he's only even trying to claim at least the land on which the rover sits, and at most the land the rover crossed before it laid to rest.

    The lawyer who was quoted when asked if he really owned the lander, is, quite frankly, covering her ass, as any good lawyer would do, when asked a question like that. What she says, that s

    • But do the international laws that cover the "right of discovery" actually cover the moon or any other celestial body?

      And is there any piece of land on Earth owned by a private individual but not part of any country?

      • The only places of land not owned or claimed by any country are parts of Antarctica and a strip of desert between Egypt and Sudan called Bir Tawil. Interesting international law question if an individual could acquire property there. In the case of Antarctica, probably not - the signatories of the Antarctic Treaty have jurisdiction over their citizens in Antarctica, so I as a German, for example, could not in any legally binding sense acquire Antarctic property, because Germany would not recognize that clai
  • I hereby claim ownership of Uranus.

    /all hail your Uranus Overlord!
  • Last time this came up I joked about the Larkin Decision... I didn't think he'd really look into laying claim to Lunar territory.. XD

    (Larkin Decision wouldn't actually apply, though - owning a piece of gear on the Moon isn't enough, you have to live there...)

  • Moon Town (Score:3, Funny)

    by ink (4325) on Monday March 29, 2010 @06:16PM (#31663154) Homepage

    I believe he was referring to the town [rpgclassics.com] in Ultima III, which he really could lay claim to.

    Also, couldn't you visit the moon in Ultima II? My memory of that is hazy. I know Ronald McDonald was in it at some point.

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      In Ultima (I) you could end up space traveling.

      Boy, that takes me back....1982, I believe.

  • No doubt he's bought the vehicle, but it seems like the ownership of the parking spot may still be contested. Still, I guess he's got a better excuse than most to mount a private space program so he can go and pick it up. In this instance, the moon artefact was bought direct from its owner, but it's also fun to think about the problems the delivery page would have caused eBay's programmers if it had passed through the used space vehicle market that way.
  • Not yet his... (Score:3, Informative)

    by dissy (172727) on Monday March 29, 2010 @06:26PM (#31663258)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty [wikipedia.org]

    As a citizen of a nation whom signed that treaty, his government's law is still held over him, and the UK law (by treaty) is that no nation or person can own the moon, it is there for all of mankind.

    Maybe possibly he could do so if he has his citizenship canceled (Is that possible in the UK? I know it is in the USA but obviously that doesn't apply here)

    However with no citizenship to pretty much any first world nation with space technology, that will leave him out in the cold for trying to claim his property. He also stands a good chance of getting shot down if he did somehow manage to launch from a country that does not have a space program.
    (ZOMG, is that an incoming ICMB?! better not take any chances, press the red button!)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anubis IV (1279820)
      Contrary to his title, "Lord British" is not, in fact, British. He's actually American and even went to my high school in League City, Texas, USA. One of my teachers was a classmate of his and used to talk about him passing out versions of a game...that later became known as Ultima.
      • Re:Not yet his... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dissy (172727) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:56AM (#31669126)

        Contrary to his title, "Lord British" is not, in fact, British. He's actually American and even went to my high school in League City, Texas, USA.

        Ahh, I was going by the Wikipedia article, which while not disagreeing with you, does state he was born in Cambridge England, then moved to Texas in the US.
        Assuming that is true, he is/was indeed a British citizen.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Garriott [wikipedia.org]

        Even if he is a US citizen, or dual citizenship, both countries still have signed the treaty I mentioned and he would still fall under those laws.

        • I stand corrected. I had incorrectly assumed that he was American, based on the fact that he grew up here, but I should've considered other possibilities such as those before making my proclamation. Thanks for pointing out where I was incorrect so politely.
  • ...should be classified as "Eric Idle". (gets crushed by a big cartoon foot)
  • Well after all, Britannia does have the city of Moonglow... ;)
  • I have purchased the entire galaxy known as NGC 1365. If you're interested in renting a planet, the price is $1.8M/month US. If anyone settles there without my permission, expect to be sued.

    Further, I am leasing all the space between the Earth and the Moon. If you'd like access to the Moon, the toll will be set at $750,000 US each way.

    For ownership verification please see the public records division on Alpha Centauri.

    Thank you.

  • According to an article in Popular Mechanics [popularmechanics.com] from the June 2008 issue:

    With the space race in full flower, though, the real worry was national sovereignty. Both the United States and the Soviet Union wanted to reach the moon first but, in fact, each was more worried about what would happen if they arrived second. Fears that the competition might trigger World War III led to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which was eventually ratified by 62 countries. According to article II of the treaty, "Outer Space, includi

  • In 1967 I bought a square inch of the Moon for $1 from a street vendor in San Francisco; and I have the deed to prove it.

  • The moon already has a king.

  • It is possible that someday a group of private (super rich) citizens or a corporation will make some spaceships and fly to the moon, build a lunar base there, and live there. It is possible for them to do it long before a government does it. That would be really interesting because they could reasonably claim the moon as theirs. The response of various countries to this claim would be even more interesting. I'll bet there would be a lot more interest in going to the moon right away to move out those squatte
    • That would be really interesting because they could reasonably claim the moon as theirs.

      Not without violating international law, which prevents territorial claims on the moon.

      The response of various countries to this claim would be even more interesting. I'll bet there would be a lot more interest in going to the moon right away to move out those squatters.

      No need to go to the moon - simply stopping their supply flights will do the trick nicely.

      No, producing supplies locally is not an option

      • New hosting for TPB?
      • by Dunbal (464142) *

        Not without violating international law, which prevents territorial claims on the moon.

        Sorry, but international law is only valid on or around planet Earth. You are welcome to cite examples where international law has been applied and/or enforced outside of L1.

        • You are welcome to prove that international law is only valid in or around the planet Earth. The numerous signatories to the agreements about the moon don't seem to agree with you. (Not to mention it's hilariously funny you'd choose L1.)

        • by goodmanj (234846)

          You are welcome to cite examples where international law has been applied and/or enforced outside of L1

          Sure thing. The Outer Space Treaty requires parties to it to conduct their exploration in a way which "avoids harmful contamination" of celestial bodies. This requirement is one of several factors which inform NASA's current policy on preventing biological contamination of Mars and Europa.

          So the Outer Space Treaty is being *applied* in contexts outside Earth orbit. Nobody's tried to *enforce* it yet, b

      • by ErikZ (55491) *

        "Not without violating international law, which prevents territorial claims on the moon."

        You have a profound lack of insight on how laws come about.

        He now owns as much of the moon as he can control. About as much as I do.

  • FTFA: "Last week, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter found Lunokhod 2, sitting clearly on the planet’s surface."

    First Pluto ceases to be a planet... Now the Moon is no longer a moon, but a planet... What is this solar system coming to?

  • Sorry, an Oklahoma City mayor already annexed the moon in the '80's.
  • He's going to need a powerful moongate to get there.
  • Trammel or Felluca?

  • "Loony clod" more like!

  • Here is Garriott's complete statement from a DIFFERENT article, and it is pretty clear he is writing tongue-in-cheek: http://www.parabolicarc.com/2010/03/23/rover-discovered-garriott-ponders-lunar-property-rights/ [parabolicarc.com]
  • he needs to get his butt up there and fix the retro reflector on the other Lunokhod! They launched two that mounted retro reflectors for laser ranging experiments, which my wife does on a regular basis (Apache Point Observatory's Dr. Russet McMillan, as featured on Mythbusters) and they can't hit one of the LK's. The three Apollo reflectors are fine, just one of the LK's. And maybe he could upgrade the other, it doesn't work when in full sunlight. Stupid absentee slumlords....
  • And in further news Loony British still thinks Ultima is relvant...

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