Ground control to major IP violation

2 minute read

Chris Hadfield
NASA/Robert Markowitz

A couple of days ago, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield — pictured here while winning “happiest man alive” contest — had to remove his cover of David Bowies’ “Space Oddity” from the Youtubes. It seems that “Bowies’ people” (and here I’m imagining a rugby team of slick, black-haired, business-attired white males in their forties on bluetooths or those big GSM phones from before you were even born) only gave Hadfield permission to post the song online for one (1) year.

Well, that was kind of them. I mean, they could have also chosen not to give him the licence at all. After all, it’s just a spaceman singing a space song about a spaceman. From outer space. Why would anyone appreciate that.

There are so many things wrong with this picture, I don’t know where to start. Let’s start from the basic concept that there is a law that can regulate who owns emotions. I am a musician, and know full well ho important it is to give some sort of protection to young, poor artists who will be able to elevate us all through their work. Only in this case, it’s young and poor like David Bowie. Or Mickey Mouse.

Then, there’s the incredibly dumb economic decision of removing one of the major celebrity vectors for the Bowie. I mean, no one would ever think that Chris Hadfield is

  1. The Duke,
  2. better than The Duke,
  3. the original author of the song.

Although it’s important to mention that Hadfield has an awesome moustache, so point Hadfield. I remember seeing the video for the first time, and immediately afterwards firing up Spotify to listen to the original. I would suppose I wasn’t the only one. Additionally, Hadfield, while on the ISS, was a sort of a teenage science heart-throb (again, the moustache), doing awesome experiments like Do tears fall in space. His videos collected hundreds of thousands of visits, and the group of kids that gulped down Hadfield’s space-faring antics were all probably introduced to the Spider from Mars through that video. And I would suppose that Bowie wouldn’t mind getting some fresh audience blood.

To top it all, I’m supposing “Bowie’s people” (a band of gorillas with briefcases) will probably extend Hadfield’s right to the song because they like money. But that in no way changes the fact that IP is profoundly broken. And of course, there is no real way to stop the internets. Enjoy Chris Hadfield’s incredible rendition of Space Oddity here. Until the gorillas come.