[meteorite-list] International Laws related to meteorites link - good info

From: Martin Altmann <altmann_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2012 19:58:43 +0200
Message-ID: <00b101cd66a1$4d94af10$e8be0d30$_at_de>


maybe the gang can ask here, for the actual legislation in place and its
very wording,
to end the speculations?



-----Urspr?ngliche Nachricht-----
Von: meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com
[mailto:meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com] Im Auftrag von MikeG
Gesendet: Freitag, 20. Juli 2012 17:59
An: JoshuaTreeMuseum
Cc: meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com
Betreff: Re: [meteorite-list] International Laws related to meteorites link
- good info

Hi Gang,

Some thoughts from the peanut gallery :

UNESCO does not apply to meteorites.

The British mandate/order in regards to Indian meteorites is over 120 years
old and India is not longer a territory of the British crown.

The late great O. Richard Norton was not a legal expert.

Laws (and more importantly, their enforcement) vary from nation to nation,
and from state to state within those nations.

Without input from a legal expert fluent in international law, we are
engaging in speculation and conjecture for the purpose of ethical posturing
and mud-slinging.

When one has a question about a law in a given state or nation, a good place
to start inquiring is with a resident of that nation or state.

Are there any members of this List or the IMCA who are residents of India?
If so, let us ask them what the laws are and go from there.

Are copies of the relevant laws or regulations available online? If so, can
someone provide a link to these online resources?

Meteorites involve a lot of grey areas - legally and ethically. Solid
authoritative information on these laws is sorely lacking.

Example - most of the Canyon Diablo specimens for sale are illegal.
We know this because the laws here in the USA are easily found online, in
local libraries, or by asking a local resident or official. The entire CD
strewnfield is on private property or state of Arizona land that is leased
to private owners. The owners or caretakers of these properties have made
it known that prospecting for CD meteorites is an exercise in trespassing
and theft. This is easily established. If people on this List want to
start pointing fingers and making allegations, please start in an area where
the laws (and their interpretation and enforcement) can be clearly
referenced in an objective manner.

Canadian and Australian laws in regards to meteorites are clearly known.
There is no debate there. Ask a Canadian or Australian citizen. On the
issue of Indian, Argentine, Algerian, or Omani meteorites, let us follow the
same example - ask a citizen of the nation in question and go from there.

The IMCA (or anyone else) cannot determine if a given meteorite specimen is
legal, unless the history of that specific specimen is documented and the
laws pertaining to that specimen are clearly known.
 An electron microprobe cannot determine *when* a meteorite was recovered.
Was a Canyon Diablo meteorite recovered before it was illegal to do so? Who
knows? This is a textbook definition of a grey area, and many other
meteorites from other nations fall into the same category - Campo del Cielo,
NWA 869, and a host of others. Until such a time when the date of recovery
(and circumstances) can be objectively determined, we can only rely on the
word and reputation of the seller or owner.

What we are seeing in this public "debate" on legality is a lot of
speculation and posturing, without any substance or authoritative knowledge.
This mud-slinging contest is not doing the meteorite community any good - it
makes us all look like a bunch of petty blowhards.

One last comment - meteorites are a product of the cosmos. They have
existed for billions of years before man crawled out of the primordial ooze
and they will exist for billions of years after we people turn to dust. We
are their temporary caretakers for an eye-blink of the galactic time scale.
It is the height of arrogance for any man or nation to think they have
exclusive legal rights over a product of the cosmos. What is a law? It was
once legal in the USA to own another human being as a slave. Just because
it was legal does not mean it was right. Laws can be wrong. Human beings
can be wrong. As a collector or dealer of meteorites, the best thing one
can do is to follow one's conscience. When holding a meteorite in hand, ask
yourself - is science being harmed by this action? If not, then enjoy that

Best regards,


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Received on Fri 20 Jul 2012 01:58:43 PM PDT

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