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  NASA patches, production and copyright

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Author Topic:   NASA patches, production and copyright
moorouge
Member

Posts: 1490
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 10-18-2009 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Who owns the copyright of mission patches - astronauts or NASA? Or is there any copyright?

If there is a copyright, are manufacturers licensed to make them? And are there any checks to make sure reproductions adhere to a set standard?

It surely can't be a free-for-all can it?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-18-2009 01:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Today, all mission patches and NASA logos are subject to the following guidelines:
The NASA insignia design for shuttle flights is reserved for use by the astronauts and for other official use as the NASA Administrator may authorize. Public availability has been approved only in the form of illustrations by the various news media. When and if there is any change in this policy, which we do not anticipate, it will be publicly announced.
Historically, the situation was similar during the Gemini and Apollo programs. Quoting Gene Dorr's website:
As part of the caption of every mission patch from Gemini 5 through Apollo 14, the following paragraph was included:

"The NASA insignia design for [Gemini/Apollo] flights is reserved for use by the astronauts and for other official use as the NASA Administrator may authorize. Public availability has been approved only in the form of illustrations by the various news media. When and if there is any change in this policy, which we do not anticipate, it will be publicly announced."

The captions for the Apollo 15 and 16 patches included this more strongly worded notice:

"This is the official Apollo [15/16] emblem, property of the government of the United States. It has been authorized only for use by the astronauts. Its reproduction in any form other than in news, information and education media is not authorized without approval. Unauthorized use of the photograph is subject to the provisions of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 701."

The notice was dropped completely beginning with the Apollo 17 patch.

If I understand correctly, for much of the early to mid-shuttle program, there were few restrictions pertaining to mission patches (from any era), so long as they were not used to imply NASA endorsement. The current guidelines came into effect, I believe, in the early to mid-90s.

Throughout the space shuttle program, AB Emblem has been NASA's chosen contractor for mission patches and as part of that, has had permission to produce souvenir editions for public sale. Other companies that have asked for permission to reproduce the logos on apparel and other souvenirs have been granted similar rights.

With the exception of AB Emblem, whose patches are reviewed by NASA for official use, the space agency rarely, if ever, provides comment or oversight on production quality.

And while the guidelines exist, at least today, there doesn't appear to be a proactive effort to enforce the need for prior permission. NASA OIG investigates complaints however, if and when reported.

All times are CT (US)

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