It looks like a Trump has run afoul of the federal government this week — but maybe not the family member you’d expect. Former First Lady Melania Trump has potentially sparked conflict with NASA by apparently violating the federal agency’s policy on the use of imagery in her latest NFT drop.
The collection, titled “Man in the Moon“— which was released Wednesday — prominently features the iconic 1969 photo of astronaut Buzz Aldrin participating in the NASA-orchestrated Apollo 11 moon landing. According to agency policy, however, the use of NASA imagery in connection with an NFT project is strictly prohibited. Gizmodo first reported the apparent violation.
“NASA does not wish its images to be used in connection with NFTs,” the organization’s Merchandising Requirements Regulations and Media Use Guidelines explicitly read, further noting that the agency is “not approving any merchandising applications” related to NFTs.
Companies or individuals wishing to use NASA images, emblems, or identifiers on merchandise must have that use approved by the agency; NASA states that “strict laws and regulations” govern this approval process.
In this case, Trump and the USA Memorabilia NFT platform she used may not have submitted a request to NASA, or may have rejected a request, as NASA strictly prohibits the use of its intellectual property related to NFTs.
decode contacted USA Memorabilia for comment on this story, but did not immediately receive a response.
Perhaps complicating matters, however, is the fact that images produced by federal agencies such as NASA are part of the public domain and can therefore be used for free. If NASA were to seek legal action against Trump, it’s unclear how far such a lawsuit could go.
Judging by history, such aggressive action by the federal agency is unlikely. A NASA attorney previously said Los Angeles Times that although the organization can send cease-and-desist letters to marketers who violate its policies, NASA leadership tends to prefer more compliance-friendly paths, including informal conversations with marketers.
However, in this case the most peculiar things is the fact that NFTs appear to be the only class of goods prohibited in all circumstances from the use of NASA images.
NASA did not immediately respond decode‘s request for comment on this story.
Trump has been quite active in the NFT space. Last month, it debuted a line of NFTs commemorating moments in American history, following the launch of Solana NFT projects in late 2021.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump’s own NFT collection at a high price in March after he was indicted on criminal charges by a New York grand jury. He then wiped out those profits by releasing them a second batch of digital trading cards in April, greatly diluting the value of the original project.