This article by Frans von der Dunk, Prof at the University of Nebraska, explains the 1967 Outer Space Treaty's implications for owning resources extracted from the Moon, asteroids, or other celestial bodies.
The Outer Space Treaty is the one international agreement that truly governs prospective national, commercial, and international space activities. For the purpose to the Treaty, a commercial activity conducted by a company incorporated in a country counts as a national activity of that country.
He gives an overview of two competing interpretations, that of the
United States and Luxembourg (as the gateway to the European Union) and that of
countries such as Russia and somewhat less explicitly Brazil and Belgium.
The United States and the EU appear to argue that the Moon and other bodies are
Global Commons for which countries can
license their commercial entities to mine, remove, and profit from resources they extract. One way to understand the
global commons concept may be to think of it in the metaphor of the old English Commons, which was a piece of land set aside by the crown for the residents of a village to graze livestock, cut wood, grow vegatables, or hunt.
The Russian position appears to argue that any exploitation of lunar or asteroidal resources should somehow benefit
all of humanity. It is not really clear how that benefit would be paid or distributed or to whom. Transported to early New England, the English commons became the town commons that charged a fee for residents to use it, which provided the funding for the local school. This evolution may be analogous to the Russian interpretation, although it is unclear how they would propose to collect or donate those fees.
Significantly, van der Dunk does not even mention the 1979 Moon Treaty, which has only 18
parties, none of them major space-faring nations. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1954/1