A Side Of SpaceX You May Not Have Seen Before

March 23, 2015

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

SpaceX has put all its images in the public domain — as the result of a tweet.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted Saturday:

Among the responses was this one:

Musk’s reply:

SpaceX posted new images on its website and on Flickr. The decision puts SpaceX in the company of NASA, which also has its images in the public domain.

What does that mean for us? It means that we can share images likes the ones SpaceX posted on its website this past weekend.

So what’s the difference?

As the Stanford Universities Libraries notes:

“The term ‘public domain’ refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it.”

Creative Commons, on the other hand, allows the distribution of copyrighted work. It offers a range of licenses from CC BY, which allows “others [to] distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation”; to CC BY-NC-ND, which “only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.”

We should note here that our Multimedia team points out that while Musk has said the pictures are now in the public domain, they still appear to be labeled CC-BY, the most accommodating of Creative Commons licenses.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.