Chris Hadfield's Outer Space Version Of Space Oddity Is Back... But It Still Never Should Have Gone Away

from the copyright-law-is-ridiculous dept

A year and a half ago, we wrote about the copyright questions related to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recording an astounding cover version of the David Bowie classic "Space Oddity" while actually in space on the International Space Station. We noted the specific copyright issues were mostly unimportant, since Bowie had signed off on the project. Then, back in May of this year, we were taken by surprise when we found out that the video was coming down because the agreement with Bowie was only for a one-year license (Bowie, by the way, in 2002 predicted that copyright would "no longer exist" by 2012).

Today, Hadfield announced that Bowie has once again agreed to allow the video to return to its official YouTube spot (unofficial copies were all over the place). Hadfield actually discusses some of the copyright issues, and notes that getting the rights to put it back took quite a bit of time.
Thus it was with some regret that we took the Space Oddity video off YouTube last May. David Bowie and his publisher had been very gracious. They had allowed his work, his intellectual property, to be made freely available to everyone for a year, and had in fact worked with us and the Canadian Space Agency to make it happen. There was no rancour, and we removed it from YouTube to honour that agreement.

This sequence wasn’t anyone’s fault. The day we took the video down we started to work again to get permission to get it re-posted. But the legal process is careful and exacting, and thus takes time. Despite countless on-line expressions of frustration and desire, it wasn’t anyone’s ill-will or jealousy that kept this version of Oddity off YouTube. It was merely the natural consequence of due process.
This time around, Bowie and his publishers have agreed to a two-year license, meaning we may be going through this ridiculous process again in 2016:
And now, we are so happy to be able to announce that my on-orbit cover of Space Oddity is back up on YouTube. This time we have a new 2-year agreement, and it is there, for free, for everyone. We’re proud to have helped bring Bowie’s genius from 1969 into space itself in 2013, and now ever-forward. Special thanks to Onward Music Ltd, to the Canadian Space Agency and NASA, to musicians Emm Gryner and Joe Corcoran, to videographer Andrew Tidby, to my son Evan, and mostly to Mr. David Bowie himself.
Once again, this process seems silly and unnecessary. If everyone is so happy about this -- and it's reinvigorated the song and attracted plenty of new interest in it -- why not grant a perpetual license? What possible harm is done in granting a perpetual license so that this process doesn't have to be replicated every few years -- other than to the billable hours of the various lawyers who have to negotiate such a silly thing? Copyright defenders often point to the need for copyright to enable agreements like this, but it seems to be enabling a ridiculously inefficient process, rather than making things easier.

In the meantime, here you go... for at least two more years:

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2014 @ 2:01pm

    other than to the billable hours of the various lawyers who have to negotiate such a silly thing?

    Gotta have work for the surfeit of lawyers that plague society.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    antidirt (profile), 4 Nov 2014 @ 2:04pm

    Once again, this process seems silly and unnecessary. If everyone is so happy about this -- and it's reinvigorated the song and attracted plenty of new interest in it -- why not grant a perpetual license? What possible harm is done in granting a perpetual license so that this process doesn't have to be replicated every few years -- other than to the billable hours of the various lawyers who have to negotiate such a silly thing? Copyright defenders often point to the need for copyright to enable agreements like this, but it seems to be enabling a ridiculously inefficient process, rather than making things easier.

    Do you think Bowie et al. should have these exclusive rights in the first place? (Rhetorical question--I know you refuse to take a concrete position on copyright). If so, I don't see the problem. They were granted a one-year license. That license expired. They asked for a second license, and they got a two-year license. So what? It's Bowie et al.'s property to do with as they please. I know you hate this fact more than probably any other fact, but authors and artists have the right to decide how their works are used by others. Crying about inefficiency, I think, is your backhanded way of complaining about this fact. Yes, they needed permission. Big deal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2014 @ 2:22pm

      Re:

      We are talking about a song that was released in 1969, the year man first walked on the Moon. To many people the moon walk is an incident from history, but a song first released before they were born is still under copyright.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jameshogg (profile), 4 Nov 2014 @ 4:04pm

      Re:

      "Do you think Bowie et al. should have these exclusive rights in the first place?"

      Not me.

      Copyright is the extraordinary claim that one knows originality when one sees it. And no extraordinary evidence, either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2014 @ 5:17pm

      Re:

      Whine it up, Lazic fanboy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 4 Nov 2014 @ 5:37pm

      Re:

      Yes, they needed permission. Big deal.


      It's a big deal to me.

      Our society's slide towards a permission culture concerns me greatly. The future portrayed in Richard Stallman's The Right to Read is not the reality I want my for my grandchildren.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 5 Nov 2014 @ 1:49pm

        Re: Re:

        It's a big deal to me.

        Our society's slide towards a permission culture concerns me greatly.


        I honestly don't see what the big deal is. I think the whole "permission culture" argument is idiotic. Requiring permission to use other people's property has been a part of our culture for a long time. If I have to ask my neighbor's permission to borrow his hedge trimmer again, do you think Mike should write a post about terribly inefficient the entire hedge trimmer ecosystem is? Give me a break.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Gwiz (profile), 5 Nov 2014 @ 2:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I honestly don't see what the big deal is. I think the whole "permission culture" argument is idiotic.

          Of course you'd think that. If I recall correctly, you were studying to become an IP lawyer. Your livelihood probably depends upon brokering these permissions.



          Requiring permission to use other people's property has been a part of our culture for a long time.

          Only for physical property. Asking permission to use another's idea or to recreate another's invention or to reproduce some sounds that you heard has only been around for a few hundred years or so. That's an eye blink in the entire scope of human history.



          Requiring permission to use other people's property has been a part of our culture for a long time. If I have to ask my neighbor's permission to borrow his hedge trimmer again, do you think Mike should write a post about terribly inefficient the entire hedge trimmer ecosystem is?

          Once again, intellectual property does not equate to physical property. At times, I think you conflate the two on purpose just win an argument. You really should know better than that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            antidirt (profile), 5 Nov 2014 @ 2:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Once again, intellectual property does not equate to physical property. At times, I think you conflate the two on purpose just win an argument. You really should know better than that.

            I'm not conflating them. I just look at property differently than you do. For me, "property" refers to the intangible rights that someone has in a given thing. It doesn't matter whether that thing is tangible or intangible. When someone owns a thing, whether that thing be tangible or intangible, the owner generally has the intangible right to exclude others from making certain uses of the thing. You're getting hung up on whether the thing itself is tangible or intangible, but for me the issue is the same either way. Asking permission to use someone's property--that is, asking permission to do something that the owner has an intangible right to exclude you from doing--is just how property works. It's the same whether the thing is a copyright or a hedge trimmer.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              jupiterkansas (profile), 6 Nov 2014 @ 10:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If the guy simply made a sound recording of the song, he could have paid a licensing fee and released it - no need for permission. The fact that he made a video of him playing the song means he has to ask for permission, and such permission is so ridiculously complicated that few others would even bother. Most people won't see the difference between a sound recording and a video recording, and find it ridiculous that you can cover any song you want to as long as you don't film yourself doing it.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2014 @ 12:55am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Our society's slide towards a permission culture concerns me greatly.

          The more people have to ask to use ideas and words the easier it for a few people to control what words and ideas can be circulated in public. Intellectual property, and the support of it via DMCA takedowns is increasingly handing the power of censorship to big corporations.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 4 Nov 2014 @ 10:47pm

      Re:

      In your permission culture you would have to ask Mike if you were allowed to use a mockup of his logo. Big deal, genius!

      *report*

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        RD, 5 Nov 2014 @ 8:39am

        Re: Re:

        "In your permission culture you would have to ask Mike if you were allowed to use a mockup of his logo. Big deal, genius!"

        "In your permission culture you would have to ask Mike if you were allowed to use a mockup of his logo. Big deal, genius!"

        "In your permission culture you would have to ask Mike if you were allowed to use a mockup of his logo. Big deal, genius!"

        "In your permission culture you would have to ask Mike if you were allowed to use a mockup of his logo. Big deal, genius!"

        Are you getting it yet, jackass?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 5 Nov 2014 @ 1:50pm

        Re: Re:

        In your permission culture you would have to ask Mike if you were allowed to use a mockup of his logo. Big deal, genius!

        *report*


        I didn't ask Mike's permission because, even in my view, not all uses require permission. Give me a break.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2014 @ 12:50am

      Re:

      "Do you think Bowie et al. should have these exclusive rights in the first place?"

      In the first place? Yes.

      Now? No.

      A reasonable, sensible term of copyright would have likely expired by now, allowing this video to remain up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 5 Nov 2014 @ 6:00am

      Re:

      It's. Not. Property.

      It's. A. Monopoly. AND it's supposed to be temporary.

      Drop the conceit about property. Move away from the conceut about property. Never, ever touch it again. Thank you.

      Disagree? Explain to me when my house will become public domain. The End.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 5 Nov 2014 @ 2:07pm

        Re: Re:

        It's. Not. Property.

        It's. A. Monopoly. AND it's supposed to be temporary.

        Drop the conceit about property. Move away from the conceut about property. Never, ever touch it again. Thank you.

        Disagree? Explain to me when my house will become public domain. The End.


        I don't think this type of argument is persuasive. You're saying that unless copyright has Attribute X, it's not really property. The problem with this type of argument, generally, is that Attribute X is not really a necessary condition for something to be property. So, in your example, you think that something that is really property doesn't fall into the public domain. My response is that all property rights are limited in some way, and copyright just so happens to be limited in duration (as the Constitution requires). But it's not true that something can't be property if the rights are of a limited duration. I can sell you my house with a clause stating that title reverts back to me after 10 years. During those 10 years, you own the house. It's your property. But then after 10 years, it's not. Whether something is property, of course, depends on how you define the word "property." I define property in terms of acquisition, use, and disposition of a given asset. But there's no hard-and-fast rule. For example, I could have a usufruct whereby I have use of an asset, and even though I can't dispose of it, I still have a property interest in it. There's all kinds of property, and it's generally known that there's no one definition that captures all the possibilities--contrary to what you seem to think.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2014 @ 2:14pm

    It was merely the natural consequence of due process.

    That doesn't look quite right... I think Chris Hadfield might have mixed up his words.
    It was merely the natural consequence of a convoluted process.

    There we go.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2014 @ 2:15pm

    and notes that getting the rights to put it back took quite a bit

    Funny thing, he had the right all along.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2014 @ 2:30pm

      Re:

      What right are you referring to and does it also apply to Canadian citizens or just US citizens?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2014 @ 2:45pm

        Re: Re:

        Pretty sure he's referring to fair use. Or as we call it in canada, fair dealing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2014 @ 4:21pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          its not just Hadfield playing, he is also using the music that David Bowie recorded originally, I don't know if that is David's voice too or not. I don't believe just changing the background of a music video or the visual display of a song qualifies as fair use. I'm guessing that Hadfield's lawyers didn't see enough of a fair use case to just put up the video without Bowie's approval. Notwithstanding the length of the license should be longer since Bowie et al. obviously feels it is important enough for the video to be shown online.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          mattshow (profile), 5 Nov 2014 @ 3:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Under Canadian copyright law, Hadfield himself would probably be protected from a lawsuit by Bowie's music publisher. Canada's "Non-Commercial User-Generated Provision" states:

          Non-commercial user-generated content

          29.21 (1) It is not an infringement of copyright for an individual to use an existing work or other subject-matter or copy of one, which has been published or otherwise made available to the public, in the creation of a new work or other subject-matter in which copyright subsists and for the individual — or, with the individual’s authorization, a member of their household — to use the new work or other subject-matter or to authorize an intermediary to disseminate it, if

          (a) the use of, or the authorization to disseminate, the new work or other subject-matter is done solely for non-commercial purposes;

          (b) the source — and, if given in the source, the name of the author, performer, maker or broadcaster — of the existing work or other subject-matter or copy of it are mentioned, if it is reasonable in the circumstances to do so;

          (c) the individual had reasonable grounds to believe that the existing work or other subject-matter or copy of it, as the case may be, was not infringing copyright; and

          (d) the use of, or the authorization to disseminate, the new work or other subject-matter does not have a substantial adverse effect, financial or otherwise, on the exploitation or potential exploitation of the existing work or other subject-matter — or copy of it — or on an existing or potential market for it, including that the new work or other subject-matter is not a substitute for the existing one



          Unfortunately, YouTube worries about US law and so they would likely still have taken it down if Hadfield didn't get permission from the publisher.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2014 @ 2:15pm

    ...why not grant a perpetual license?

    Because in 2254, one or more of Bowie's clones will need a little walking-around money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 4 Nov 2014 @ 2:38pm

    Logical, Captain...

    Because having someone - an amateur singer - cover your song about space, from space, is likely to destroy the market for your song rather than generate interest in it and increase sales... so needs to be stopped.

    Riiiiight!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    SirThoreth (profile), 4 Nov 2014 @ 3:24pm

    Not exactly Bowie's fault..

    It came up the first time through this mess, but David Bowie doesn't actually hold the copyright for "Space Oddity".

    http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/apology-to-david-bowie

    Oddly enough, it's the only song of his for which he [I]doesn't[/I] hold the copyright himself. So, while he enthusiastically supported Cmdr. Hadfield on this, and went to the publisher asking them to grant Hadfield permission, the decision to only do one- or two-year licenses falls on the publisher, not Bowie.

    Is it silly? Absolutely. But let's make sure we point the finger where the blame actually falls.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 5 Nov 2014 @ 6:04am

      Re: Not exactly Bowie's fault..

      Thank you, sir. And, as I pointed out, it's not property. It's a monopoly under which licenses can be granted to fee-payers under the terms set by the rights-holder.

      Hold that thought: imagine buying some land and building a house. To live in that house you must sign away your ownership rights to it so that if you want to invite a friend to come and stay there, you have to ask the deeds-holder.

      Is that fair? Well, that's copyright.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2014 @ 6:26am

      Re: Not exactly Bowie's fault..

      "The day we took the video down we started to work again to get permission to get it re-posted..It was merely the natural consequence of due process."

      "But let's make sure we point the finger where the blame actually falls."

      Exactly, I always wait until my car runs out of gas before I start looking for a gas station.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2014 @ 3:36pm

    Waste of an opportunity

    Let's be creative. They are losing the opportunity of selling a CD/DVD combo containing:

    - The video in question, at high quality;
    - Whatever music videos exist for the original music;
    - Audio-only tracks for both the cover and the original music;
    - Other music from Bowie from around the same era as the original music (both audio-only and music videos);
    - Interviews with Hadfield and Bowie;
    - Interviews with some random NASA guy;
    - Completely unrelated pictures of the International Space Station, because space.

    Throw a link to buy the CD/DVD in the youtube video description. Get a few high-placed commenters to mention the product (it should be easy to get one article on techdirt, arstechnica, reddit, most space forums, and slashdot). Watch it go viral.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    WhoCares, 4 Nov 2014 @ 8:24pm

    I already have it on my harddrive. Screw Bowie.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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