Landsat data has been free and open since 2008. In 2017 there was a request from the Department of the Interior that the USGS consider the possibility of fee recovery for Landsat data. The Landsat Advisory Committee (LAG) took up the task to review it. Their analysis focused on three cost-sharing approaches: charging for traditional data, charging for value added products and services, and private-public partnership (P3) structures.
The LAG has finally released their findings in a report, “Evaluation of a Range of Landsat Data Cost Sharing Models”. Spoiler alert: the committee did not recommend charging for Landsat 8 and 9 data stating, “The LAG believes that charging a fee for Landsat data will generate little net revenue.” They note that doing so would “result in negative economic impacts to the U.S. commercial remote sensing satellite and value-added industries.” Laws and regulations would need to be changed in order charge for data and that the revenue gained would not be worth the economic, legal, societal or political costs.
For more info and to view the report click here.