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From: Henry Spencer <>
Subject: Re: Lunar territory claim
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 1996 18:58:00 GMT

>> What about mining the moon (or another body) for life-neccesary 
>> products like oxigen or (on a NEA) water? Surely no signatory 
>> could claim that saving lives is against the rights of 
>> 'all of mankind'...

Depends.  "Saving lives" is a term usually applied only to emergencies. 
Deliberately putting yourself in a position where you can survive only by
stealing from your neighbors is a very different matter; the judge will
not be sympathetic. 

>> Extending the question, what about mining the moon for metals to 
>> repair the astronauts' ship? ...

Again, the question is whether this was an unforeseen emergency, or a
deliberate attempt to evade the signatories' property rights.  And even
if the situation was genuinely a life-threatening emergency, you will be
expected to eventually pay the property owners for the materials you have

>> The treaty signatories will have 
>> a hard time claiming that a couple of tons of rock or regolite 
>> has reduced the profits of 'all of mankind'. Here, the analogy 
>> is sailors who cut down some trees to repair a mast or boom on 
>> their vessel.

If they cut them down from an orchard, you bet your booties that the
orchard owner will want compensation, no matter how vital the repair was. 
Certainly you've reduced the profits of "all of mankind":  you've stolen
those rocks rather than paying for them, reducing a.o.m.'s profits by the
amount a.o.m. would have charged you for them.  If you steal $1000 from
Donald Trump, you can't expect to be acquitted by claiming that you
haven't reduced his fortune significantly.

>> And finally, what does the treaty say about using lunar or asteroidal 
>> resources to live in space, without trying to sell them on earth 
>> for profit?

The treaty says nothing about "on Earth".  You are clearly using those
materials for your own gain, to wit, reducing the amount you have to
pay for resupply flights from Earth.

>> It can be argued that the colonists reduce the profit of 'all of 
>> mankind', on the other hand, they form part of 'all of mankind'...

A 50-person colony is about one millionth of one percent of "all of
mankind".  So one-millionth of one percent of the materials they are using
are theirs.  The rest belong to somebody else and should be paid for. 
(Actually it's even worse than that, because the Moon Treaty barely
admits that private enterprise exists; the ownership is probably vested
in governments, not individuals, so you can't even claim your fraction.)

>> forcing the spacers to die to protect the rights of the earthers 
>> is atrocious. 

The spacers aren't being forced to die, merely to exercise some foresight
and not put themselves in a position where they can survive only through
criminal acts.

Now, I don't want to sound like I'm *defending* the stupid treaty. :-)
Clearly we need notions of property rights, mining claims, etc. in space.
However, this will require new law and new treaties.  The ">>" arguments
above are simply ridiculous; such transparent evasions won't convince
anyone that your actions are legal under the treaty.
The Earth is our mother.                           |       Henry Spencer
Our nine months are up...                          |

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