Moonwalk Muddle: Melania Trump’s NFTs spark controversy over NASA guidelines

Moonwalk Muddle: Melania Trump’s NFTs spark controversy over NASA guidelines

Melania Trump’s foray into the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has stirred the cosmic dust. The former First Lady recently released an NFT collection, “Apollo 11”, which uses a renowned image of Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon. However, there’s a hitch: NASA, the originator of these iconic images, has not given the green light for their use in NFTs.

A walk on the NFT side

The latest collection, approved by Mrs. Trump and launched on the eve of the 54th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, features a limited edition token, dubbed “Man on the Moon”, priced at $75. Purchasers get more than just the digital image – there’s also an audio file, unlockable upon purchase.

The issue? The NFT’s depiction is no random lunar vista. It recreates one of NASA’s most legendary moon mission images, showing Aldrin standing near the Lunar Module, “Eagle”. The image was snapped by Mission Commander Neil Armstrong himself on July 20, 1969, etching it forever in the annals of history.

Navigating the NASA Nebula

NASA’s images, generally copyright-free and primarily used for educational or informational purposes, have found themselves in unfamiliar territory. Their rules on merchandising are clear: NFT-related applications don’t align with the agency’s approved product categories. Put simply, the space agency isn’t keen on its images being used for NFTs.

So, where does this leave Melania Trump’s “Man on the Moon”? Stranded in a legal grey area. The photos being in the public domain muddies the waters. While NASA has articulated its disdain for the use of its content in creating NFTs, whether they can actually prevent such usage remains unclear.

A cosmic conundrum

Trump isn’t the first to tread this interstellar path. Anicorn Watches, in April 2021, cashed in on NASA’s first NFT to sell, fetching over $41,000. NASA’s response to this was rather muted, giving no indication of any action against the digital artwork.

So, could NASA continue to ignore such use of its content or use this as a launchpad to safeguard its content from unauthorized usage? Only time will tell.

The former First Lady’s latest moonwalk into NFTs is more than just a small step into a new market – it’s a giant leap into a legal and ethical quandary involving public domain images, proprietary rights, and digital art. How NASA navigates this new space age conundrum could set the trajectory for future NFT ventures.

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