Meet PINC.Sarasota Speaker and Space Law Expert Frans von der Dunk

By Hannah Wallace December 2, 2015

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PINC.Sarasota is back for its second annual conference Dec. 10, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Sarasota Opera House. A TED Talk-like event, PINC is bringing 16 international speakers with unusual interests and talents to share stories about people, ideas, nature and creativity. One of those speakers is Frans von der Dunk, professor of space law at Nebraska College of Law and founder and director of the space law consultancy, Black Holes B.V., in Leiden, The Netherlands.

Von der Dunk, who named his consultancy after a Pink Floyd lyric in Shine On You Crazy Diamond, will explain the legal issues—yes, lawyers and lawsuits are everywhere—of our final frontier, space. If you think that space law is not relevant to your earthbound ways, reconsider.

Rights to satellite frequencies, copyright over satellite remote sensing pictures, liability arrangements for launching spacecraft and the rights to military use all require legislation. And then there’s the possibility that space debris might destroy your house and you would have no way to be compensated for the damage. Or think about the consumer protection you might need for a canceled flight as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk begin to privatize space flights.

“Wherever man goes, the law follows,” von der Dunk says. “Law creates a certain level of foreseeability and stability in that regard. And since outer space and space activities are increasingly crucial, even indispensable, for today’s societies—militarily and security wise, but also for economic purposes such as communications—it is certainly in the general interest of humanity to support bona fide space operators in taking the upper hand over the mala fide ones.”

The interests of democratic, free trade and state of law societies require the protection of the law. “We need a fair and proper balance between the rights of operators in this realm and the public interests in security, safety and suchlike,” he says.

And if space law is too otherworldly, PINC attendees also will listen to a variety of speakers talk about everything from the structural integrity of Incan suspension bridges from a MacArthur genius, connecting the coincidences of the nervous system from the head of neuroscience at the University of Zurich and hearing the sounds of the world whistling champion from The Netherlands.

For a complete roster of speakers, go to Tickets are steep—$425—but you won’t find a more inspiring way to spend a day. The price includes breakfast, two tea breaks, a gourmet lunch and dinner. Purchase tickets online here. –Isaac Eger

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