A couple have folks have sent me this interesting link, about a legal argument that claiming, settling, buying, and selling property on other worlds is not illegal for private corporations and individuals. Two authors with the Space Settlement Institute have published on this in the Journal of Air Law and Commerce. I don't accept the argument - under international law, private citizens and corporations are agents of the government under which they live, not totally independent entities, and thus private interests, like governments, are forbidden under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST) to make land claims. My mentor on these sorts of things, Dr. Joanne Gabrynowicz of the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law, has always argued private action in space is severely constrained by the OST. (There's a slight ambiguity, since land needed for a scientific base is OK and is effectively claimed if you build on it, but that's not relevant.) Still, I would love my own Martian ranch.
Thanks, Kris Winkler and Dave Brett Wasser.