Thinking seriously about space piracy

| November 20, 2007

“Space for all people” may sound nice, but who establishes (and enforces) the rule of law?

I’m a very simple man, and here’s my simple understanding of property law: say I’m a solar-farmer on the moon, just selling my electrical output to them city-folk across the ridge at the spaceport. Pirates, who’ve mutinied against the captain of their spaceship, land on my farm, kill my sons, rape my daughters, and take over my collector to recharge their batteries, becoming their new illicit base to spread their range of plundering and villainy. Who shoots them? If it’s the government, then I have property rights; if it’s me, then I might as well fly my own flag and call my 40 acres “Cardopolis”, a petty king of a petty city-state; if it’s nobody, this scenario will surely come to pass. Every advance in transportation has led to equivalent advances in piracy and I don’t expect space travel to be much different. I pitched this idea past a friend recently, and her response was, “But there’s nothing in space to build a ship out of; in the Carribean, there were trees.” I did my best to remain polite when I pointed out that Black Beard probably never built a ship himself; he bought them, or took them, from mutineers.

Be sure to read the whole article. Given the growing number of countries moving into space — not to mention the growing number of private firms — these issues need to be dealt with seriously. Besides, the author (Jonathan Card) even draws upon the film 3:10 to Yuma for analogies. Hat tip to (big surprise) Instapundit. ..bruce..

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Category: Geopolitics, Legal, Main, Science, Space

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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