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back to article NASA halts 'naut flogging Apollo 13 notebook

NASA has sparred with one of its most famous astronauts over the sale of a checklist of life-saving calculations. Jim Lovell, commander of the Apollo 13 mission, led the ruptured space vessel to a safe return landing on Earth in 1970 - but now the 83-year-old has right royally angered his old bosses by auctioning off the …

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This is nothing more than petty spite on NASA's part. The notebook has presumably been in Lovell's possession since 1970, so why did they not try to get it back before now? I imagine he's selling it so that he can enjoy his remaining years with some extra comfort, so to yank that from him for no real reason is reprehensible. It's not that NASA really wants it, they just don't want anyone else to have it.

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Spite?

I'm not sure it's spite, I can sort of understand what they said about preserving an important artifact for the American People to view.

That said, I'd agree with Janimal - if they want it they should probably bid for it.

Most peoples contracts, though, will say any 'Intellectual Property' created whilst working for x company belongs to that company (believe it or not I had this when running an Off License!)

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I don't think this is about intellectual property. If he wants to sell photocopies or scanned images of the book, he's probably OK. From what I can see, the conflict is about the physical book. The statement refers to "items from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs." Who would get licensing royalties if images of the book are reprinted might be round two of the discussion.

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe so but bear in mind that anything you produce during your worktime is technically owned by your company. That applies to super heroes like these guys to the very lowly.

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Maybe not in the 60's-70's

today its a standard clause in a contract. I wouldnt bet on it existing back then.

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It's been in his personal possession for over 40 years. I think that technically makes it his.

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@Giles

Not even close! Not saying I agree with it, but if they are able to show that it's their property then the amount of time he's had unauthorised possession (which is in essence what they seem to be claiming) of it actually works _against_ him from a legal perspective.

Personally I think he's earned it and NASA are being unfair, but that doesn't mean that they aren't quite within their rights.

We don't know the whole story, and NASA may well have been unaware of its existence until now. As it was mission related (which it evidently was) then it's not unreasonable to assume that it belongs to NASA.

If I do something at work it belongs to my employer. That's the way things work, even moreso if it relates to my work.

To some extent it even makes sense, imagine trying to report on something that happened a few years ago (I've been asked to do so before) only to find your predecessor had claimed copyright on his work and taken it away with him. Just not going to work is it?

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Retirement Pay

"I imagine he's selling it so that he can enjoy his remaining years with some extra comfort"

I agree. I imagine that Lovell is not selling it because he wants to, he's selling it because he HAS to.

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Alien

petty spite on NASA's part

> This is nothing more than petty spite on NASA's part, Nick Gisburne

If they didn't do this, then every former NASA employee would be chopping bits off the infrastructure and selling them on eBAY ...

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Holmes

Mission related IP

There's no reason this can't be amicably worked out between the two parties...

Clearly NASA owns the IP of the work done on the job - i.e. the calculations. Therefore Lovell should turn over the calculations... the notebook however, is used stationary that is of no use to the company - he can keep. Simples.

Either that or I'm going to start selling all my post-it notes to art galleries that state things like "Meeting - 1pm".

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re: Retirement Pay (& etc)

"I imagine that Lovell is not selling it because he wants to, he's selling it because he HAS to..."

I'd hate to think that after four NASA missions -- including the historic Apollo 8 and 13 -- NASA isn't cutting him a better pension than he's getting... not to mention whatever US Navy pension he's getting.

I'm sure he's had buttloads of well-paid speaking engagements and executive positions with aerospace companies (like many retired astronauts) and such after he left NASA; bad luck on investments, perhaps? Shame; must be a really tough decision for him, as it's not just a simple spacecraft hardware artifact -- I understand he also nabbed the sextant from Apollo 8 -- but an important and highly personal part of his life, an artifact he created himself on a historic voyage, in the process of trying to get himself and his shipmates home safely. It's something on a par with the log of an historic old sailing ship. An old deck gun from the HMS Victory would be worth a lot, but not as much as the log, because it's the Captain's own written record of his command.

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"Clearly NASA owns the IP of the work done on the job"

And somebody must have written it down before (possibly John Aaron?) they dictated it to the crew of Apollo 13. although I'd imagine that given NASA record of loosing moon rocks they have probably lost that as well.

I'm with Lovell on this, if NASA didn't look for it for 40 years then though! bid for it on ebay.

Also astronauts were paid a food allowance when they were off base, but lost this allowance when on a mission as food was provided.

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Joke

re: Mission related IP

I think you'll find it was used at a few hundred thousand kilometres per hour (with Earth as your reference frame).

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Moon rock tango

You want to know what happened to all those moon rocks? Well I've got the very last one right here and it can be yours for 10 easy cash payments of $19.99!! You ask: "But how can I be sure it's really a rock from the moon?" Well every rock I sell comes with a statement of full guarantee and warranty proving beyond all reasonable doubt that what you have in your very hand is a piece of history itelf! Your children will relish the novel pleasure of showing all their friends and bragging how their [FILL IN PARENTAL ROLE] went to the end of the world for this gift on their [FILL IN SPECIAL HOLIDAY] and will continue to reap pleasure for years to come. Hurry, sale ends {FILL IN DAY OF WEEK BUT NOT TODAY'S DATE].

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Considering what his calculations undoubtedly saved them (much more than simply money) NASA should just join the fecking auction.

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So NASA is going the Apple route ?

Anything that brings in any money must now bring it to NASA. No side benefits to third parties allowed, be they American Heroes or not.

The beancounter's stranglehold on everything financial is strengthening even more. Where is the "more and more will slip through your fingers" when you need it ?

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"more and more will slip through your fingers"

was that a Princess Leia quote?

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I agree

regarding beancounters controlling everything.

So while we're on the "kill all the lawyers" kick, let's kill all the accountants as well! Think of what a wonderful place the world would become then! ;)

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Facepalm

NASA's aim

"NASA's aim was to preserve important artefacts so that they could be available for display to the American people."

Thus their complete disregard of this valuable item for over 40 years. And their overwriting of the high resolution videotapes of the first lunar landing.

Good job there, biys!

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Theymay have disregarded it because they were not aware of its existence.

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WTF?

Not aware of its existence?

"Theymay have disregarded it because they were not aware of its existence."

Not aware of its existence? WTFF...?

Y'mean, the dozens of guys working Mission Control weren't aware of its existence, nor the Flight Director, who were following their every move from Earth -- nor the Director of KSC, or the NASA Administrator at the time, both of whom were certainly following the mission -- nor the dozens of large media outlets, all of whom were covering the mission?

C'mon, man, gimme a huge break, here.

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Happy

Ownership?

Mass may claim ownership of the notebook, but he wrote the notes so can he claim copyright?

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No, actually

If you write something as an employee then is is generally taken that the copyright is with the employer (i.e. the person / entity that paid you to write it or, rather, was paying for your time *when* you wrote it). You do, however, have the right to be identified as the author.

So it is possibly the reverse that is true. Lovell could very well claim ownership if NASA new he had the book for all those years but didn't do anything about it, but the material written in it is likely (c) NASA or (c) USN

Lets hope that they can come to some amicable agreement. Possibly a covenant attached to the sale that the book must be made available on permanent loan to an American museum where it can be viewed by the public. That way Jim Lovell gets his money and the American People get to see the book.

BTW, if you have never done it, do watch the Apollo 13 movie (DVD) with Jim Lovell's cometary switched on. The only instance I know where the commentary adds something to the story itself.

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"employee then is is generally taken that the copyright is with the employer" .....if specifically covered by the employment contract/T&C. If not......

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If not......???

***".....if specifically covered by the employment contract/T&C. If not......"***

Then, in the US, if not specifically mentioned in the employment contract, the work-made-for-hire doctrine usually applies.

Having said that, given that the Apollo missions were of such public interest, I'd be very surprised if the Astronauts didn't have specific IP clauses in their contracts.

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Scan and PDF it

Then if NASA claim they own the pysical notebook they can have it. Or, possibly legally do-able, send them a brand new replacement empty notebook to 'cover the cost' of the other.

$388k for a PDF might not pan out but you'd still have exclusive ownership and maybe a hand-signed CD as the delivery medium.

Of course working for NASA probably means they own an IP you generate while under their employ, like most companies, so technically they may well own the calcs, too.

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Shame On Nasa

NASA didn't care at the time whether or not he had the notebook and most likely even gave it to him. Like Hollywood did to their movie props, they threw much of their stuff away, gave it away, or just threw it in a corner, or even destroyed it. Leonard Nemoy said Fox destroyed every set from the Star Trek movies and had to start over from scratch with each new one. How stupid was that? Seems like NASA had the same mentality. My understanding is they didn't even take care of their photographs properly until the 1980's which is probably their most valuable asset keeping the memories of the space missions alive. Now that there is money to be made and they are not getting it elsewhere, they are getting greedy. Take the whole moonrock issue. NASA pushing and shoving laws to reclaim moonrocks from people they gave them to over the years making it illegal to own or sell one. If anything, they sound like a bunch of whinning kids wanting their toys back. They need to grow up and realize this isn't helping their cause but rather, making the people of the US and the world want to stop supporting it more.

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Call yourself a geek??

It's Nimoy not Nemoy!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

I agree though, it was very short-sighted of them to take so little care of the things they've brought back and documentation made (someone earlier mentioned they taped over the videos of the Apollo missions!)

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bah!

I'm conflicted on this one.

On the one hand no move was made to preserve the technology surrounding the Apollo project, much of which has been lost due to arcane rules on how to treat classified documents when you are a vendor to a compartmentalized government project - the next time someone says "we can put a man on the moon but..." gently point out that we can't any more - the design documentation is mostly shredded. Indeed, it looks to me like no sooner was the project cancelled than everyone wanted to forget it.

On the other hand this book is indisputably government property, possibly gifted on to a genuine hero who showed the right stuff in buckets and should get more than a handshake for that. Had it happened in this day and age he would have sought damages from the manufacturer of that lox tank stirrer.

Why not let him sell it and come to an arrangement with the buyer? That would be honourable and classy.

Another question springs to mind: is there a plinth somewhere waiting for this artifact or are we talking sticking it in a box somewhere until a place can be found at the back of the museum at Kennedy Space Center?

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at the back of a museum at KSC?

"...is there a plinth somewhere waiting for this artifact or are we talking sticking it in a box somewhere until a place can be found at the back of the museum at Kennedy Space Center?"

Well, it was mentioned somewhere in this thread that an agreement should be reached in which Cdr. Lovell gets the 300k to live out his golden years comfortably, and his "log" is still available for public view and appreciation.

If this notebook ends up in a museum -- being a resident of Washington DC, I'm selfishly hoping for the Smithsonian NASM -- it sure as hell better not be tucked in the back someplace*. It's one of the most -- if not _the_ most -- historic documents of the early Space Age, as it tells the story (in its own cryptic, geek-like fashion) of a commander saving his ship and crew from certain doom.

--

*In all seriousness, though, a permanent loan to the Kansas Cosmosphere -- which also has an arrangement with NASA for permanent loan of the restored Apollo 13 CM -- would be appropriate.

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Erm...

The worth of the artifact is all in the possession of it.

PDF? Of no value whatsoever. This is an issue of antiquarianism, not librarianism.

It's the difference between owning a Jaguar D type and owning a kit-car replica of one.

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Anonymous Coward

for f**ks sake elREG ...

Sorry, I don't ever see those adverts on my other machine ...

http://s13.postimage.org/7w0tebn3b/elregadvert.png

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Slightly OT

but anyone running a team, would do a lot worse than having a pizza & beer night for your guys, with a showing of "Apollo 13"

Now THAT is teamwork.

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another thumbs up to _that_...

"anyone running a team, would do a lot worse than having a pizza & beer night for your guys, with a showing of 'Apollo 13'."

...especially any kind of engineering/software design team successfully completing an enormously difficult project, or perhaps tasked with saving an enormously troubled project from certain failure.

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Amen to that

What should happen is that Ron Howard (the director of "Apollo 13") and Tom Hanks (who played Lovell) should outbid all comers by any means necessary and by a million bucks just to say thanks before donating the notebook to the National Archives.

In it's opening week, "Apollo 13" took in 39.25 million. I have no idea what the total to date is.

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Anonymous Coward

Not the National Archives...

I would think that were Mr. Howard and Mr. Hanks to get the notebook, they would probably put it in the same museum as Apollo 13 itself (http://www.comso.org) - especially since Ron Howard credits the Kansas Cosmosphere will all the work for the props, space suits, and spacecraft sets.

And while I can understand Dr. Lovell wanting to get some money out of the book, but to not offer it to the KCSC first - Jim, I am disappoint.

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Nasa is nuts

Work it out - yea right - stop the sale, kick the astro hero in the nuts then ask for a meeting - Totally pathetic duh

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Get it in writing....

Greetings and salutations....

The problem here is that times have changed. In the day, the unwritten policy at NASA was that once the mission was over, pretty much everything that was not nailed down was up for grabs and it was fine that the astronauts took stuff with them. However, now, for whatever reason, NASA is backing away from that policy and claiming that it did not exist. Hence the object lesson of why all of us should get promises from management in writing.

Now, I agree that it would be great for the notebook to be on display in the Smithsonian, as it is a way to return to, and be close to, that time in the space program when the entire world held its breath over the survival of the crew. However, I should point out that quite a number of the folks that have bought space artifacts have, indeed, put them on permanent exhibit in various museums. It is not like this is an artifact that is like a fine original painting by one of the old masters, that is worth contemplation for years.

The fact that NASA has ignored the notebook for 40 years indicates it has been abandoned, and, so, belongs to the person that has it. Shucks, NASA has a long history of dumping or selling off historically important artifacts. I cannot recall where it is, but, I remember reading in Sky and Telescope some years ago about a tempest in a teapot over an amateur astronomer who had used one of the heat shields from an Apollo command module as the dome on his observatory. There have been a number of other such things that have shown up for sale over the years, and, no one seemed to care.

SO...call it salvage and let the guy sell it

Pleasant dreams

dave mundt

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Stop

Not about the money?

It's pretty clear it's not about the IP, but maybe it's not about the money either? I don't see them turning around and selling those moonrocks they've reclaimed. They were probably fine with him holding on to it as long as it stayed in his possession (a relic together with the hero). What they might not want is for a market for this kind of thing to gather steam, with all of the relics ending up in the hands of private collectors. I only hear of them making an issue of it when someone tries to *sell* something?
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re: "the relic together with the hero"

While we're on the subject... I'm not sure of the exact chapter'n'verse policy on Apollo crewmen nabbing little bits of lunar samples as souvenirs, but I do know that Apollo 12 LMP Alan Bean -- who's gone on to a fine career as a painter -- still has the cleated overshoes he wore on the Moon, as well as several vials of lunar regolith. What's especially cool about this is that he uses the overshoes and regolith to create artifacts of even greater value; when mixing paint for his paintings, he mixes in tiny bits of the moon dirt to make the paint sparkle very slightly, and when priming his canvases, he textures the gesso by mashing the cleats of his lunar overshoes onto the canvas.

Of course, it also helps that Al Bean is a seriously ass-kicking painter:

http://www.charlieduke.net/images/smalltown.jpg

You can't really see the embedded particles of moon dirt sparkling in this -- you have to see the paintings in person for that -- but Bean's boot prints are clearly visible on the surface of the canvas here.

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