The story began with Astronaut Chris Hadfield covering David Bowie’s Space Oddity while actually in space. Before uploading the song and video on YouTube, Hadfield’s people approached Bowie’s people for permission to post the video and was told that out of all the songs Bowie wrote he didn’t have the rights to that particular Bowie tune. While he gave his full consent on the use of the song, Bowie left it up to the song’s publisher for the final say. They allowed the video to stay on the site for a year and then the newspaper reported “erroneously…that Mr Bowie had granted the original license but failed to renew the license after one year. That’s NOT what happened and The Ottawa Citizen apologized to Bowie for the error…
The apology reads:
In April of 2013, while Commander Hadfield was still in space, his people contacted Mr. Bowie to seek permission to make the video.
They were informed that while Mr. Bowie would give his full support to the use of the song by Commander Hadfield, Space Oddity was the only one of more than 300 songs he has written and recorded for which he did not own or control the copyright. Mr. Bowie offered to have his people call the publisher and convey his strong support, but he had no ability to personally dictate any of the terms of the licence or even require the publishers to issue one.
Immediately thereafter, 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.
One year later, the Citizen erroneously published that Mr. Bowie had granted the original licence but failed to renew the licence after one year. The commentary published by the Citizen also erroneously implied that Mr. Bowie was the reason the video had to be removed from YouTube and questioned how his actions could have “made the world a better place.” The article caused an immediate reaction by thousands of fans worldwide, and this incorrect information was picked up by hundreds of other news sources around the world.
On behalf of Blayne Haggart and ourselves, we regret the error and we sincerely apologize to Mr. Bowie as well as all his fans around the world.
A recent tweet from Commander Hatfield reveals the awesome video will be back on line soon.