On May 13, 2014, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield announced on Twitter that his version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity performed on the International Space Station would be taken down from YouTube after his one year term of permission was over:
This led to an outcry from the general public who viewed the video over 22 million times during the year it was available including appeals to David Bowie to keep the video up.
The irony here is that the publishers Fairwood Music International, not David Bowie, own the rights to give permission to his song. Bowie was publicly criticized by many when he was actually supportive of the video and encouraged the publishers to allow Hadfield to use it for free for one year. Other versions of the video are still available on YouTube through SkyNews and many others who downloaded a copy. Hadfield did his homework and planned for his video by contacting Bowie and seeking permission.
As we seek to use content in our courses and our scholarship it is important to remember to consider how copyright is involved in your choices and what steps you can take to either use an items that is publicly available, claim fair use, or seek permission. The Bethel Library Copyright Guide can help you become more informed of your options.
The continuing development of this case study promises many more interesting discussions about the roles copyright and fair use in our culture. It can be argued that Hadfield’s video increased the awareness of the original work considerably and also rekindled the public’s interest in the International Space Station.