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David Bowie Erroneously Blamed for Astronaut’s ‘Space Oddity’ Video Takedown

David Bowie
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

International Space Station astronaut Chris Hadfield made headlines last year when he posted a video of himself covering David Bowie‘s ‘Space Oddity’ from space, but the clip was recently taken down after its license expired, bringing Bowie under fire for what some saw as needlessly aggressive copyright enforcement.

Those criticisms were misguided, however. As the Ottawa Citizen pointed out in a published apology to Bowie, ‘Space Oddity’ is “the only one of more than 300 songs he has written and recorded for which he [does] not own or control the copyright.” Although Bowie “strongly” supported Hadfield’s video, he wasn’t officially able to grant or deny permission, and wasn’t responsible for the takedown.

In fact, as the Citizen’s article notes, Bowie went above and beyond for Hadfield, reaching out to the publisher to throw his weight behind the project: “Mr. Bowie made contact with the publisher of the composition expressing his wish that they allow Commander Hadfield the right to record and synchronize his recording to the video he was proposing to make. Mr. Bowie strongly suggested that the licence be immediately issued at no charge and that the creation of this video had his enthusiastic support.”

The publisher in question appears to be the Richmond Organization, which maintains control of ‘Space Oddity’ through its Andover subsidiary. The company, which was founded by Howard S. Richmond, might be in fans’ crosshairs at the moment, but it proved instrumental to Bowie’s career in more ways than one — his longtime collaborator Tony Visconti was a house producer there when he was drawn into Bowie’s orbit. In any event, Hadfield’s video went viral for a reason — it was really, really cool — so here’s hoping it’s able to make a speedy journey back online.

Next: Top 10 David Bowie Songs

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