Land ownership in space (was Re: "Raping the planets" and other PR disasters

From: zeb haradon (
Date: Sat Jun 24 2000 - 01:26:59 MDT

There's been discussion about the space treaty and how it applies to land
ownership - who cares?
Land ownership is a social construction. I own land if a certain amount of
people around me believe that I own it, meaning that they will not walk on
it without permission or try to build on it, and that to get these rights,
they recognize that they need to obtain them from me, and that I may decline
any contract to do so.
So, hopefully the first people to set up permanent living stations on Mars
and the Moon will realize this, and will begin to construct their own
conventions. When I go to the moon, I intend to make arrangements regarding
land ownership with other individuals who accompany me on the trip. My
suggestion will be that each of us is allowed by our contract to claim up to
10 square miles of lunar land per year (arbitrary number). If any individual
signing the contract makes a claim of that amount, the others will admit
that he "owns" this land in every sense of the word. Any new signer of the
contract will admit that he respects the claims of all previous and future
signers. Any dispute is resolved by a committee elected by all signers of
this contract, which ultimately can remove an individual from the contract
(thus nullifying his land claims), but will avoid this except as a last
resort. Signers also agree that they will defend the land rights of each
other signer as viligantly as they would their own.
I just realized the proper term is signatory, not signer, but you get the
There would be some other caveats too. I'd like to include something where
you have to actually physically stand on a peice of land in order to make
the claim. This will encourage immigration, and discourage people from
claiming ET land from Earth. Once you claim it however, you may sell it to
someone on Earth. There might also be a clause about maintaining a fence of
some sort around the property, or some kind of structure. And there should
be a buffer zone, maybe 30 feet wide, of land surrounding each claim which
may never be claimed by anyone and remains public (to ensure access to all
land plots).
It would probably just be a few people at first who went to the planetary
body. Hopefully they would realize the utility of such a contract and adopt
it. As more people arrived, a percentage (hopefully large) of each
immigration would also sign. After a point, it's an established social
convention, and if you want to set aside some area and build something on it
or mine it, and be sure that people will not take it from you, then you
should sign.
People who would want to enforce the space treaty's claims against land
ownership, if that is how the treaty is to be interpreted, why would they be
there in the first place? Why would they have any motivation to go up there?

Zeb Haradon (
My personal webpage:
A movie I'm directing:

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