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NASA Regulations for Merchandising Requests
12.05.08
 
Strict legal regulations govern NASA policy regarding merchandising requests. Companies interested in producing NASA-related merchandise must notify NASA's Multimedia Division in writing by sending e-mail to Bert Ulrich (bert.ulrich@nasa.gov). Requests should describe the intended use of NASA imagery on the product. If possible, layouts or sketches of the product should be included. When all legal requirements have been met, NASA will send the merchandiser an approval letter. A general overview of NASA policy follows:

  • Companies interested in producing NASA-related merchandise have equal access to NASA information. There is no licensing or exclusivity agreement with NASA.
  • As a U.S. government agency, NASA will not promote or endorse or appear to promote or endorse a commercial product, service or activity. Therefore, there are strict regulations on the use of any of the NASA identities and emblem imagery. NASA does permit use of the insignia and other emblems on souvenir items when they are used alone. For example, in the case of a NASA T-shirt, the name of the company producing the T-shirt can be displayed on the collar tag; however, the T-shirt can only bear the NASA insignia and no other company logo on the front or back of the shirt.
  • Many NASA images (moving and still) in the public domain can be used for merchandising purposes. However, there are rules regarding the appearance of astronauts' or NASA employees' faces or names on commercial products. Astronauts or employees who are currently employed by NASA cannot have their faces or names displayed on any commercial products, advertisements or commercial product packaging. Astronauts and NASA employees who are retired from the agency can grant permission for the use of their faces or names, but that permission may be subject to a fee. For deceased astronauts or employees, their families must grant permission for use of their photos or names.
  • There are many images (moving and still) in the public domain of unrecognizable astronauts in space suits. However, in some instances, the astronaut's name may be legible in the photo. In such a case, we would have to determine if use of it for commercial purposes might infringe on a right of privacy. Permission from the astronaut could, therefore, be necessary.
  • When all legal and policy regulations have been met and approval is obtained, the merchandiser may contact the Photo Department at 202-358-1900 for information to access imagery.