We have a hopeful sounding update on the takedown of astronaut Chris Hadfield’s video cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from the International Space Station. According to Ars Technica, it was Hadfield himself who took down the video in order to comply with his original agreement with David Bowie. For those paying close attention (eg, not me), Hadfield gave us a little advanced warning that this was going to happen:
Hadfield and Bowie’s camps are reported to be working on a new licensing deal that should see “Space Oddity” from orbit return to the Web at some unspecified future date. Don’t hold your breath, though. Getting the details of the first, one-year license hammered out apparently took several months – probably due to the variety of individuals and government organizations involved.
If I were David Bowie*, I would be grumpy with my representatives for not getting a new deal done before the old one expired. In the one line of an otherwise very wise discussion of the copyright issues surrounding Hadfield’s “Space Oddity” cover (endorsed by Hadfield) that misses the point, Meera Nair says:
Yet the fact that something that people liked to watch was disappearing from YouTube prompted a bewildering public outcry.
The outcry might have been unreasonable, but there was nothing bewildering about it to regular viewers of the Internet.
The original one-year license made sense at the time. In retrospect, the video seems like the most likely candidate to go viral ever. At the time, who knew it would matter so much when the license expired?
Hadfield’s cover of “Space Oddity” was tremendously good press for Bowie and introduced the song to generations that were not necessarily familiar with his oeuvre. While not necessarily fair, it was obvious that the removal of Hadfield’s cover from the public spaces on YouTube would make Bowie look like a monster. In many ways, this is less a copyright FAIL than a public relations FAIL.
*I suspect that, were I David Bowie, that this issue has not been at the top of my priority list.