From “Shutter Control” to “Big Data”: Trends in the Legal Treatment of Earth Observation Data

  • Ulrike BohlmannEmail author
  • Alexander SoucekEmail author
Conference paper


Data is the fuel of the digital revolution. This also holds true for Earth observation imagery gathered through satellites from the vantage point of outer space. While satellite image data once represented scarcely available and mostly government-owned strategic information, it has today become a resource widely available and easily accessible. From climate change to emergency and rescue operations, from border control to agricultural monitoring—the gathering, processing and dissemination of Earth observation data are subject to legal instruments and policy considerations likewise. This article provides an overview over levels of data regulation and exemplifies the trend towards free and open access to this important resource, particularly against the paradigm shift to big data in an ever more digitalised world.


  1. 1.
    ESA Budget (2018). Available at Accessed on 20 Feb
  2. 2.
    Süss G. ESA earth observation data policies: principles, current status and reforms. In: Baumann I, Smith LJ (eds) Contracting for space: contract practice in the European space sector. Ashgate Publishing, FarnhamGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    ESA Regulations, ESA/REG/008 of 23 April 2014, Rules on Information, Data and Intellectual Property. Available at Accessed on 20 Feb 2018
  4. 4.
    Süss G (2011) Earth observation data policies. In: Brünner Ch, Soucek A (eds) Outer space in society, politics and law. Springer, New York, p 674Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Doldirina C (2015) Open data and earth observations: the case of opening up access to and use of earth observation data through the global earth observation system of systems 6 (2015) JIPITEC 73, para 1Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Harris R (2002) Earth observation data policy and Europe. Balkema Publishers, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Regulation (EU) No. 377/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 establishing the Copernicus Programme and repealing Regulation (EU) No. 911/2010Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Süss G. ESA Earth observation data policies: principles, current status and reforms. In: Baumann et al. Contracting for spaceGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ESAParisFrance

Personalised recommendations