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What's Wrong with Advertising on the Moon?

July 23, 2009

A company called Moon Publicity is getting attention from blogs and news sites because it promises to let bidders advertise on the face of the Moon through “shadow shaping” technology, using robots to carve lines onto the lunar surface.

So when you look up at the night sky, instead of seeing the same old “Man in the Moon” face, you could see the Nike swoosh or the McDonald’s arches.

And what’s wrong with that? Walter Block and I addressed this very question in a paper presented at the 49th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, “In Defense of Advertising in Space,” and found nothing at all wrong with it. The Moon isn’t anyone’s property, so anyone is free to go use it as they see fit and to make it their property by homesteading.

Some people will still get upset, of course, but that doesn’t make too much sense. What if the Moon had a naturally occurring “swoosh” on it all along? Then presumably the environmentalist types would get mad if we disrupted that. Well, why should we prefer a given design only because it’s naturally occurring? Why not favor a face for the Moon that was actually designed to appeal to as many people as possible instead of something totally random?

Also, advertising benefits consumers, so Moon advertising could benefit millions or billions of people. On the other hand, if certain people hate the prospect of Moon advertising so much, they could always offer Moon Publicity money not to advertise on the Moon.

Probably this whole thing is a hoax and Moon ads will remain science fiction. But if not, then why not welcome the change? As a product of voluntary actions on the market instead of government coercion, Moon advertising would be more laudable than the original Moon landing.

(HT Reason.)

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