You might remember when, about a year ago, a video of Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield playing a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from aboard the International Space Station began making the rounds. In fact, it was pretty much exactly a year ago, and therein lies a problem which has had Hadfield’s hordes of social media fans up in arms for the last several days. You see, the song was only licensed for that single year, and so, thanks to the grinding gears of copyright law, the video has now been removed from Youtube.
Now, obviously, this is the Internet, so the Streisand Effect is in full force—mirrors of the video are popping up faster than mustache-hairs on Hadfield’s majestic, cosmos-sojourning lip. Still, that hasn't stopped fans of the now-retired astronaut—whose savvy handling of social media while he was orbiting the planet has probably done more to promote the current generation’s interest in space exploration than NASA’s entire PR department—from deluging David Bowie’s official Twitter and Facebook feeds with requests to re-issue the license, requests which substitute righteous anger in place of nuanced understandings of the vagaries of copyright law.
Hadfield has said he’s working to get the video, which amassed more than 22 million hits in its single year on Youtube, re-licensed. In the meantime, fans will have to make do with unofficial mirrors of the video—cough, cough—or spend time reading this fascinating Economist article from last year about the complications of copyright when a piece of music is recorded in orbit around the planet from inside a space station owned by multiple countries.