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NASA Astronaut Sues Dido Over Album Cover Photograph

American NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II is suing British singer Dido over the photo used for the album cover of “Safe Trip Home”. The photo shows McCandless “free-flying” hundreds of feet from the Orbiter using a Manned Manuevering Unit (MMU). McCandless was the first person to do an untethered spacewalk.

Since McCandless does not own the rights to the image (it’s in the public domain), the lawsuit is over his “persona” being used. Having licensed his persona for advertising campaigns, his claim is that the unauthorized use of his image hurts his endorsement value for future clients.

The fact that the photo itself isn’t under copyright and the fact that McCandless appears only as a tiny spacesuit in the image make this a pretty interesting case. What’s your opinion?

(via The Guardian)


 
 
  • ccpi

    Some people will do anything for a buck, if he didn’t say anything, very few would know or care it is him. Now many will think he is an a** . . . . .

  • http://ihsankhairir.blogspot.com ihsankhairir

    can’t even see his ‘persona’ there. could be a spacesuit filled with sponge.

  • http://www.belisma.it Belisma free web

    Very interesting post about copyright. I dont’ know. I think that if photo is in public domain
    all people can use it.

  • http://twitter.com/HappyTinfoilCat Happy Tinfoil Cat

    It’s sad when you look at what a great life and career this guy has only to fall into the stereotype of people with “II” or “III” after their names.

  • http://twitter.com/simpsoid Paul Simpson

    It’s not his persona, it’s a spacesuit.

  • DZGNr

    I agree, he should this cover as a portfolio piece to increase value. And doesn’t he get well paid to be an astronaut in the first place? Greedy beatch.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_42V3YENOHEY5HM2QDNUBRXQX3U Oliver

    simply ridiculous… it’s just a way to get attention and money

  • fromBR

    He went to space! He’s OLd! Why does he care about this to sue the band? Gee…

  • Anonymous

    Some may not like his asserting his rights, but since this is an iconic shot, something nobody else has ever done before or since, he does have a leg to stand on. Besides, the Dido could have gotten a graphic artist to do the same thing, essentially, and would have had no problem, and it would have looked just as good. Since the astronauts are out of jobs now that NASA shut down the shuttle program, it probably enhances the value of the photo, too. Just my 2 cents, though.

  • adrian

    I’m not an expert, but can he prove thats him in the photo?… I don’t think so.

  • http://twitter.com/jeremybrooks Jeremy Brooks

    He has nothing to stand on. The photo is not his. He cannot be identified from the image. Now he will be known as the ass that filed a frivolous lawsuit, rather than the first man to walk untethered in space.

  • DS

    My 2 cents is that since they are all out of job now and NASA’s going the dinosaur way, these guys are trying to raise funds for their beloved employer with these cheap actions!

  • Edovie

    Since he’s not recognizable whatsoever, McCandles should pipe down.

  • http://twitter.com/tyskkvinna Lis Bokt

    Just because it isn’t his face in the shot, he is certainly identifiable.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, the Photographer would have more rights to it than the model, under most contractual circumstances. NASA may have the rights to it, after all! As an amateur photographer I have had to deal with “model releases” before so that I can do as I please with the photos I take. Just in case of something like this if I ever get published.

  • http://misterfgrumbles.blogspot.com Leandro

    Seriously?!? You guys are calling this astronaut a greedy ass? Really? Just like NativeSonKY said, its an iconic shot. Currently a one of a kind. How do we know its him, because he’s the only one who’s ever done it! The documentation proves it. Now the whole public domain thing makes it sticky since his rights may been given away already. I think he’s perfectly within his right to challenge it, whether he can win is something else.

  • http://misterfgrumbles.blogspot.com Leandro

    Seriously?!? You guys are calling this astronaut a greedy ass? Really? Just like NativeSonKY said, its an iconic shot. Currently a one of a kind. How do we know its him, because he’s the only one who’s ever done it! The documentation proves it. Now the whole public domain thing makes it sticky since his rights may been given away already. I think he’s perfectly within his right to challenge it, whether he can win is something else.

  • Avinsen

    I think other astronauts should sue him for diluting their persona.

  • Anonymous

    Was Buzz Aldrin compensated when MTV used him?

  • http://www.lowercasestudio.com //d.

    LOL – couldn’t Dido’s people just clone that particular indistinguishable space suit out and shop a new indistinguishable in? problem solved…

  • huhhhhhh?

    Wait…Dido is still around?

  • rowan

    A photo in the public domain is not subject to copyright or “persona” rights. He was doing his job as an employee of the United States government. It could have been any of a number of other astronauts in that picture; not just because of the anonymity of the spacesuit, but the interchangibility of the people trained to to that job. It’s not like he invented a suit and launched himself in to space. As has been said, what is visible is the spacesuit, and yet you don’t hear anything from them.

    In this case, his “first” is just like those clowns that comment on blog post with “FIRST!”

  • http://twitter.com/scottkdc ScottKDC

    Ridiculous. Who paid to send him up there? Who paid for the camera? All of us. Public domain, buddy. Pathetic.

  • http://twitter.com/dwadestrick Dennis Strickland

    Sounds like he is just looking for money.

  • http://twitter.com/dwadestrick Dennis Strickland

    Sounds like he is just looking for money.

  • Ajgomezd

    im a graphic designer, i would never even think the picture is real, let alone know all the facts behind it, this is a ridiculous lawsuit

  • Ajgomezd

    im a graphic designer, i would never even think the picture is real, let alone know all the facts behind it, this is a ridiculous lawsuit

  • http://www.freeboprich.com freeboprich

    Sleeper’s album “SMART” featured a team of astronauts on the cover, I don’t remember there being any lawsuit involved with the release of that image which clearly shows all their faces. I can’t help feeling that he’s trying to have his cake and scoff the lot…

  • http://www.cengizc.net Cengiz C.

    For that matter, NASA should sue him for using their suit in space (since it belongs to NASA)

    Bah!

  • http://twitter.com/pointsinfocus J. Franke

    NASA would have the rights to it if they weren’t a tax payer funded government entity, which is why the image is in the public domain. Like virtually every other image NASA produces.

  • Max

    Kudos to him for trying to exploit the system, but I don’t see how it’s any different than a photo of any other piece of NASA equipment (and thus public domain). It could be anyone, or indeed no one, inside that suit.

  • Russ

    First off, it’s very unlikely Dido had any say in what the cover image was. Her label, the music colossus Sony BMG, makes those decisions.
    Period.

    Secondly, even with the image in public domain, it’s simply a nod of respect and courtesy to give liner note credits to NASA and McCandless. Without their masive efforts and risk, Sony wouldn’t have such a phenomenal photograph to use as a mere album cover.

    I don’t know to what extent they were credited on the album, but if there’s nothing, I can sure understand McCandless’ disappointment.

    The image will help Dido an Sony make pots of money off of their risk and the US taxpayers expense…I’d be upset too if I were McCandless.

  • SD

    What I want to know is why is Dido paying her album cover designers to use copyright-free NASA pics instead of actually designing an album cover.

  • Valentino

    The problem here is having 2 legal issues contradicting the other . . . “Sure you can use the image, but you can’t use ‘my persona’ (an astronaut) that is clearly portrayed in the image (public domain). The image and its use is enough to overrule any sort of “illegal use of persona” argument since the image isn’t being used to capitalize on his persona . . an image that is in the public domain. And the use of this image does nothing to “hurt” his endorsement value. . . which he would have to show cause. The subject of “persona” is the main issue though, and HE will have to show how it exists in this image and . . . . is it enough to say I am that astronaut, even though you can’t see my face!? Maybe the subject of “common knowledge,” as to his persona in this image, will play a big part in this argument.

  • domi

    Arsetronaut.

  • http://twitter.com/pookiepookieca poo

    Greed. Simple Greed…

  • http://twitter.com/samisin samisin

    He has no rights to it. At all. The photo is public domain. Anyone can use it.

  • http://twitter.com/chungdha Chung Dha Lam

    I donno shouldn’t it be the one who designed the cover should be sued? Especially I wouldn’t use a phot from the internet. Would totally had photoshopped the image instead of using the actual photo. Or even use toy space men and a glode to make that picture instead. Also have to say that album cover does not look that pretty at all.

    That astronaut is not going to win the lawsuit easily cause mostly people are buying the cd cause of the great music and not cause of the album cover. Plus you can not actually see his face and could had been anybody in the suit.

  • Russ

    Dido didn’t pay anybody.
    When you are signed to a major label (like Sony BMG), you have essentially no say in how your music marketed…including the album art.
    The big labels foot the bill for production, distribution and marketing and have their own massive in house marketing machinery. They never trust critical marketing elements like album covers to the musicians.
    The label wants to profit on their commercial investments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/coachtroop Ryan Troop

    It sounds like someone is hungry, and needs a meal ticket.

  • JSab

    If the image itself isnt copyrighted, then he is just money grabbing.

  • Rob

    McCandless planned on using the shot under his stage name, Dildo. Obviously confusion would arise.

  • http://uncachable.com uncachable

    Earth should sue: it’s much bigger than the astronaut.

  • midug

    It would be interesting to find out if, as part of his contract with NASA, he ever signed a release saying that his image could be used. If he did then he definitely doesn’t have a leg to stand on. And I would think that the use of this image would only enhance his marketability.

  • http://twitter.com/SkeletonLegs Aaron Presley

    load of nonsense, im more concerned how bad the album cover design is haha :P

  • Alex

    He’s the one that made that photo special. The spacesuit didn’t go there by itself. He took the risks and that’s because his position is risky that the photo takes all its meaning. And it seems not even a request was made to have him or the photo would not have been used… is that really fine ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/rekanize Donovan Rekanize Fannon

    He’s also suing Sony AND Getty Images… As far as his chances of winning this case: please alert me when the space shuttle lands.

  • Sp

    if the singer did not use the photo, no body could remember the astronaut unwired flight in space. I think he wants to be famous from it.

  • Surefire

    Leandro, you are apparently the only person here with a functioning brain. What the F*** is a Dido?

  • Nat

    What if the image were used to promote a book by Bernie Madoff or Rush Limbaugh or George W. Bush? Or used a propaganda campaign by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Osama Bin Laden? I think the disparaging remarks made here about McCandless stem more from perceptions than the facts: McCandless is an older, white, male that visitors to this site don’t recognize, vs. a young, attractive, popular, female singer that they are familiar with.