Space Updatity

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:

Screenshot 2014-05-28 11.23.48

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.

Space Oddity, we hardly knew ye…

UPDATE: The video was taken down voluntarily by Hadfield in keeping with his original agreement with Bowie and without pressure from Bowie. That does not mean this is how things should have happened.

Almost one year ago today, I posted about astronaut Chris Hadfield’s cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from the International Space Station. I hope you took the time to check it out then, because you can’t anymore.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, David Bowie had given Hadfield a one-year license to cover Space Oddity. Last Wednesday, the license expired and the video was taken down.

While Bowie has the right to license his song as he sees fit under the law, it is difficult to see how this helps anyone, including Bowie, aka The Goblin King. It is very easy to see how this hurts the effort to inspire people with science and art.

At the time, I wrote that Hadfield’s cover represented the “best of humanity”. If that was true then, what does this – the use of copyright pedantry not to prevent theft of ideas, but to squash creativity and inspiration – represent?

But, let us reflect the best of humanity and be charitable. Maybe Bowie just forgot to renew the license. I do that all the time – forget things, not licenses, no one wants to license my crap.

*Hat tip to Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing.


Science Caturday: Space Cat comes down to Earth

Everyone’s favorite real-life spaceman, Commander Chris Hadfield, recently returned to earth after 5 months aboard the International Space Station. Interestingly, the press paid little attention to the fact that an alien kitty stowed away on the ISS and grew so attached to Hadfield that he accompanied him back to Canada. As these recent photos show, the cat (unimaginatively dubbed Space Cat) is experiencing a few difficulties adjusting to life on Earth.


He may have trouble eating one with that space helmet on. Dealing with grabbity is also a challenge. Continue reading “Science Caturday: Space Cat comes down to Earth”

“Space Oddity” represents the best of humanity

As if it is not enough that a guy on a space station communicated regularly with the terrestrially bound of the species via Twitter, one of his last acts before coming home was to make a music video – IN SPACE. Continue reading ““Space Oddity” represents the best of humanity”

%d bloggers like this: