“Meteorite ownership and legal issues – Current situation and perspectives”


Saturday, August 21, 2021 morning: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM

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Convened by:


Ludovic Ferrière, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna, Austria


Brigitte Zanda, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France 


Information on the workshop / Short summary:


Meteorite legislation, from collection to ownership, differs widely from country to country, being very strict in some cases, or non-existent in others. In addition, some countries have regional or local laws that may apply. To add to the complexity, there is no legal definition of a meteorite. 


In a number of countries, the State owns all meteorites found in that country. In such cases, the State may offer compensation to the discoverer, but the discoverer may also be obliged to hand over the meteorite to the State (i.e., to an official institution of the country) without any compensation. Where there is no specific law for meteorites, laws on mineral resources, archaeological or paleontological objects may apply. In the strictest countries, searching, collecting, exhibiting, selling, or exporting meteorites without a specific permit is even prohibited (or strictly regulated). Alternately, in some countries ownership of a meteorite will be granted to the owner of the land on which it fell/was found, while in other countries ownership is more ambiguous between the landowner and the finder. All these legislations are either historical (or based on adjudications), or designed to prevent looting, in the best interest of science, etc. 


There is currently no good picture of the legal situation of meteorite ownership in the world, and some conflicting information is even circulating. The workshop will cover all aspects of this issue, with introductory presentations and discussion sessions. Its objective is to compile legislation from any country in the world and recommend best practices. 


All opinions will be taken into consideration and all contributions will be recognized. Participation in the workshop will be free of charge and a shared online file will allow all interested people to contribute with relevant information.