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Astronaut Sues Dido For Album Cover 264

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-me-off-that-thing dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Astronaut Bruce McCandless is suing Dido for her album cover that uses a famous NASA photograph of a tiny, tiny, tiny McCandless floating in space. McCandless doesn't own the copyright on the photo, so he's claiming it's a violation of his publicity rights ... except that he's so tiny in the photo, it's not like anyone's going to recognize him."
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Astronaut Sues Dido For Album Cover

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:42PM (#33819896)

    A NASA astronaut you've never heard of is suing a signer you've never heard of. We've launched investigations into both of these people and will try to explain who they are. Your Late Local News is next.

    • In Other News... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We know the submitter of this post is from a marketing agency by the blatant attempts made (several times in a short amount of text) to lead the reader to a conclusion.

      We also know Slashdot has utterly sold out, as the said marking drone somehow circumvented the tradition of being called an anonymous coward: "An anonymous reader writes".

      • by RDW (41497)

        This is all very exciting and Slashdot-worthy because it's an astronaut involved, of course, but it's a very normal legal situation that photographers and commercial image users deal with all the time. McCandless claims to be identifiable in an image that's being used commercially to promote a product, rather than in an editorial context. If this is the case, it doesn't matter who owns the copyright of the image, the record company might still need to seek the permission of the subject for this type of use

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      a signer you've never heard of

      You've seriously never heard of Dido? That's like never hearing of Scotch tape or underpants. You'd have to be feral to pull that off.
      • Re:Broken News... (Score:4, Informative)

        by treeves (963993) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @03:27AM (#33821588) Homepage Journal
        Yeah, I love that part when she [youtube.com] sings her lament "When I am laid in earth", after Aeneas, following the Sorceress' evil scheme, sails from Carthage in the opera by Henry Purcell. Very moving music. Everyone should know that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EdZ (755139)
        Could be a regional thing? Here in the UK, the Generic Tape Brand is Sellotape, not Scotch tape. If you asked someone here for some Scotch tape, they'd probably just wonder why you'd want to import your Sellotape from up north.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705)

        You've seriously never heard of Dido? That's like never hearing of Scotch tape or underpants. You'd have to be feral to pull that off.

        Wow. I may actually be feral and didn't realize it. :-P

        Of course, I've studiously avoided any form of music radio for over a decade now. Some of us simply don't care about your pop icons.

        (Now, I might have actually inadvertently heard her stuff and might even recognize it, but I got nothing on the name.)

    • Re:Broken News... (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheoMurpse (729043) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @11:26PM (#33820266) Homepage

      "a singer you've never heard of"
      You've gotta be trolling. 21 million copies sold of her debut album, MTV Music awards, BRIT awards, Grammy nominated, #98 best selling of the 21st century, duet with Eminem, music featured in a big movie, song the opening theme of a US TV show, haircut named after her, sold-out world tours...

      I mean, I can only name like three or four of her songs from the early 2000s, but "a singer you've never heard of"?! Come on!

      • Oh, I'm actually a fan of Dido ever since I saw her perform on Kilborn's Late Late Show in the early 2000s... just being so interfered with the joke.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by theskipper (461997)

        In fairness, the singer's music may be familiar but not the name. That happens a lot.

        In this case I'm in the same boat as the gp. Never heard of this singer (or even how to pronounce her name) but that's because I haven't watched MTV in a very long time.

      • You've gotta be trolling. 21 million copies sold of her debut album, MTV Music awards, BRIT awards, Grammy nominated, #98 best selling of the 21st century, duet with Eminem, music featured in a big movie, song the opening theme of a US TV show, haircut named after her, sold-out world tours...

        For what it's worth, I've never heard of her either, and you just explained why: she's a Top 40 pop musician. That's actually a pretty narrow audience demographic, albeit a lucrative one. I don't know the figures off the top of my head, and I'm going to deviate from normal Slashdot practice and refrain from pulling them out of my ass, but a large chunk of the population just doesn't follow that sort of thing.

        Now would you please get off my lawn?

      • Re:Broken News... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by LostCluster (625375) * on Thursday October 07, 2010 @02:25AM (#33821188)

        The "duet with Eminem" was actually a illegal use of parts of her song "Thank You" by the rapper. Then when it was explained how much cash she could make and how good it'd be for her, she agreed to sanction it and perform with him.

      • #98th Best Selling of the 21st Century??!
        I can dig the rest of what you're saying, but don't you think that only 10 years in, it's a little too early to say she's going to retain this till 2100?
        I think what you meant was #98th best selling of the 2000's. Or #98th Best Selling of the 21st Century so far

        I'm not just snarking on you, more the shitty record companies that play that shit all the time like the "Best Selling album of the year" shit, when it's February, or the "best song ever", as voted for by a b

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mjwx (966435)

        I mean, I can only name like three or four of her songs from the early 2000s, but "a singer you've never heard of"?! Come on!

        If you've ever heard any of her caterwauling you'd understand why many people actively try to forget who Dido is.

        Further more if I were in any way, directly or indirectly able to be linked to Dido, I'd be suing like the dickens to try to sever that connection too.

      • by clickety6 (141178) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @03:42AM (#33821666)
        It was a typo. He meant to write "a singer you wish you'd never heard"
    • by WCguru42 (1268530)

      a signer you've never heard of.

      Who is the sign maker named Dido?

    • Initially I miss-read the title as :

      Astronaut Sues Dilo [Maker] Over Aluminum Cover

      Boy was I disappointed!

  • Of Course (Score:4, Funny)

    by longacre (1090157) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:46PM (#33819928) Homepage
    If there were a picture of you under a word closely resembling "Dildo" you'd be upset, too.
    • If there were a picture of you under a word closely resembling "Dildo" you'd be upset, too.

      Not as much as if my name closely resembled it. Her full name is "Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong". It doesn't even fit in the subject line for this post, and it's not a stage name. Her parents should be shot.

      • If there were a picture of you under a word closely resembling "Dildo" you'd be upset, too.

        Not as much as if my name closely resembled it. Her full name is "Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong". It doesn't even fit in the subject line for this post, and it's not a stage name. Her parents should be shot.

        That would certainly be the most decisive event in their lives to date.

    • If there were a picture of you under a word closely resembling "Dildo" you'd be upset, too.

      I don't see why. It's obvious that Bruce McCandless is an astronomical dick.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:47PM (#33819936)

    except that he's so tiny in the photo, it's not like anyone's going to recognize him.

    By suing, everyone will know it's him, regardless of how tiny he is in the picture, thus giving him grounds to sue. So if he doesn't sue, he has no grounds to sue, therefore he must sue!

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:54PM (#33819994) Homepage Journal

      except that he's so tiny in the photo, it's not like anyone's going to recognize him.

      By suing, everyone will know it's him, regardless of how tiny he is in the picture, thus giving him grounds to sue. So if he doesn't sue, he has no grounds to sue, therefore he must sue!

      I am familiar with the picture but I didn't know it was McCandless. Given that he actually got paid to do something which I will never be able to pay to be able to do, I don't have a lot of sympathy for him.

    • By suing, everyone will know it's him, regardless of how tiny he is in the picture, thus giving him grounds to sue. So if he doesn't sue, he has no grounds to sue, therefore he must sue!

      And what we can't see in the photo is that under the space suit, it's really Chewbacca. Which makes no sense.

    • the american justice system... score: 5 "funny because it's true"
    • by houghi (78078) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @03:50AM (#33821722)

      Perhaps it is a plot from the record industry to get people to download the cover, so they can sue everybody who saw it and not only the bittorrent people. That way they can eliminate this pesky thing called Internet that screw over their business plan.

      You might think it would be legal to see the picture and have it in your cache, but you also might think it is legal to have a copy of work you bought. They have the money, they make the rules.

    • by stiggle (649614)

      NASA's own copyright notice states you can't claim any other rights on NASA copyright material.
      So as its NASA's picture, then McCandless is unable to main any additional claims to the picture or its content.

      I'd like to know the name of his lawyer so I can avoid using them - ever.

  • by cappp (1822388) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:50PM (#33819958)
    Well it seems he'd lose under his claim to Statutory Right of Publicity [findlaw.com]

    (a)Any person who knowingly uses another's name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, in any manner, on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods or services, without such person's prior consent, or, in the case of a minor, the prior consent of his parent or legal guardian, shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or persons injured as a result thereof.

    (1)A person shall be deemed to be readily identifiable from a photograph when one who views the photograph with the naked eye can reasonably determine that the person depicted in the photograph is the same person who is complaining of its unauthorized use.

    That being said, the entire area of Right of Privacy law is fascinating. I was reading through this website [rightofpublicity.com] and there's some really good meat there for discussion.

    • I think he'd be a borderline celebrity. Anyone who is doing a job that only a select handful of people on the planet will ever do, who are trotted out regularly for press conferences and PR, who appear before Congress, who have a TV channel dedicated to showing what they are doing can't really claim to be "a person of no public interest".
    • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @03:48AM (#33821712)

      It's a picture of a spacesuit .... McCandless happened to be the occupant but it is impossible to tell that from the photo ....

      If I take a picture of a 747 can all the occupants sue me?

  • Wow, I had completely forgotten about the existence of Techdirt.
    Fortunately, samzenpus and an anonymous reader are here to let us know about this "science" story.
    If you want detailed info on the previous story about Mexico and ACTA, you won't find that at the linked site either.
    Posted from different "dept."s on each site though. Editors in full effect!

    • by chartreuse (16508)

      Wow, I had completely forgotten about the existence of Techdirt.

      Yeah, it's been, like a couple of days?

      Even Masnick is tired of writing "Streisand effect".

  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:54PM (#33819996) Journal

    Traditionally trolls have lived under bridges, but it appears that they've infiltrated NASA and are now making their way into outer space!!!

    BE....WARE.....OF....SPACE....TROLLS

    (especially if you're a recording artist)

    You have been warned. We will now return you to your regularly scheduled IP rights battle.

  • Someone please correct me if I have this wrong. I thought that as a public figure/celebrity in the US you effectively lose your right to avoid publicity? I would think that an astronaut would count as a public figure and thereby lose this right.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by beav007 (746004)
      I believe that Bruce McCandless is arguing that Dido is using his image to promote her album (like an endorsement). It would be like Pepsi taking a picture of Tom Cruise on the street and putting his picture in their advertisements.

      I believe that the laws in the USA confer the right of the famous to control the use of their likeness in publicity for things that are not related to them or what they do, meaning that companies have to have a contract with the person before any endorsement or advertising can
      • by dave420 (699308)
        Wouldn't it be more like Scientology takes a publicity photo of Tom Cruise, releases it into the public domain, and then Tom gets all pissy that someone used it on a Pepsi advert. It's pretty obvious where his anger should be directed...
  • They should have the astronaut's face blurred on future cover releases.
    • by Yaur (1069446)
      Either that or Photoshop him out and replace him with a different astronaut, assuming they haven't already done this.
  • I suspect that Dido has cut a check to McCandless. This is great, and probably cheap publicity.
  • by phlegmofdiscontent (459470) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @11:09PM (#33820124)

    I could have sworn that was Buzz Aldrin....

  • by tool462 (677306) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @11:14PM (#33820158)

    I want to thank you
    For giving me the best day of my life.

    Sincerely,
    Dido

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tumbleweed (3706) *

      Number of people who now know Bruce McCandless is an asshole: everyone who reads this story. If he wins the lawsuit, he'll still be an asshole.

  • last week Google "first untethered space walk" -29,500 results
    tonight Google "bruce mccandless is an asshole" - 67,600 results
    Someone needs a new lawyer, a new agent, or a new life.
  • IANAL, but the way this was explained to me:

    I work for a government agency and the pictures we take on taxpayer's time are public property. I've seen photos we've shot being used in magazines, web sites, screen savers and in industry publications (which were actually photoshopped to promote their products). It's the reason NASA releases all sorts of neat images because it's a publicly funded entity.

    I wish the guy the best of luck but I doubt he's going to get any compensation.

    • From my understand what you're talking about is copyright, which is not what this is about. McCandless is claiming that Dido used his good will and persona as the first astronaut to do an untethered space walk to boost album sales.

      If a government photographer takes a picture of someone famous that doesn't mean that anyone can now take that publicly owned and available photo and use it to imply that the celebrity endorses their products, even if the celebrity is a government employee as well. However, t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @11:41PM (#33820342)

    If you look down at the Earth just below and right of McCandless, you can see me looking up shouting at him to get out of my sky.

  • "...except that he's so tiny in the photo, it's not like anyone's going to recognize him."

    Uh.. yeah, it's an iconic photo of a man doing something that precious few people on this planet have managed to do of a completely anonymous person.

  • I'd be worried about suing Dido: I hear she's pretty persistent. She'll go down with the ship, won't raise her hands up in surrender.

  • Some of the early astronauts haven't done too well in later life. They were big heroes briefly, and then has-beens for decades.

    Being an astronaut today must really suck. There are about 100 "active astronauts" [nasa.gov], most of whom will never get into space again. There has to be a layoff coming. Meanwhile, they get assigned to "lunch with an astronaut" [kennedyspacecenter.com] duty.

  • I thought you was dead...
  • No "L" in the artist name!
  • And who is Astronaut Sue? Was she the one who put her training to use with a very long distance drive in a nappy?
    Oh, it's "Dido" the singer not something very personal belonging to Astronaut Sue.
  • ... except that he's so tiny in the photo, it's not like anyone's going to recognize him.

    Maybe I wouldn't recognize him by name but I damn sure know that photo, and could easily look up who it was if you had shown it to me and asked. (I recognize it as the first untethered spacewalk with the MMU, type "MMU" into wikipedia, and the captioned picture is right there on top). Thus, he's easily identifiable, if at least not easily recognizable.

    Incidentally, I'd say that that picture is one of the top 4 most famous space pictures, the others being the Blue Marble, Earthrise and the one with Aldri

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Maybe I wouldn't recognize him by name but I damn sure know that photo, and could easily look up who it was if you had shown it to me and asked.

      Don't you need to be able to clearly recognise the person in order to claim publicity rights? Looking up who the photo may have been of based on some website which lists the subject doesn't count. For all we know it's all a fake and he sent a dummy up.

  • by agw (6387)
    It's a bit hard to see and I'm hardly recognizable, but I'm somewhere down in the ocean on the deck of a ship.
  • Between frivolous law suits and driving across the country in diapers it's fair to say NASA may have problems with its recruiting program.
  • Pay back? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <rich AT annexia DOT org> on Thursday October 07, 2010 @05:29AM (#33822180) Homepage

    Maybe he should pay back all the US tax dollars it cost to get him there in the first place? Then we can talk about publicity rights ...

    Rich.

  • Great picture. Seriously. Was he tethered to anything or was he roaming completely free? Anyway... Whoah...

  • Once upon a time, we looked to our astronauts as heroes - bigger than life - people who we greatly admired and respected for their bravery, courage and dedication to duty.

    We remember Neil Armstrong, Alan Sheppard, John Glenn and Cmd Jim Lovell, Apollo 1, the Challenger and Columbia crews (just to name a few). To be an astronaut meant you above such trivial things as lawsuits over "publicity" rights.

    Sad.

  • by sseaman (931799) <[sean.seaman] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday October 07, 2010 @08:48AM (#33823236) Homepage Journal

    Wait, you guys are siding with a RECORD COMPANY over an ASTRONAUT?

    And the record company is SONY?

    Is this opposite day?

  • From nasa.gov (Score:3, Informative)

    by gsmalleus (886346) on Thursday October 07, 2010 @10:34AM (#33824442)
    This is off of NASA's website [nasa.gov]:

    As a government entity, NASA does not license the use of NASA materials or sign licensing agreements. The agency generally has no objection to the reproduction and use of these materials (audio transmissions and recordings; video transmissions and recording; or still and motion picture photography), subject to the following conditions:
    ...

    • NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted. If copyrighted, permission should be obtained from the copyright owner prior to use. If not copyrighted, NASA material may be reproduced and distributed without further permission from NASA.
    • If a recognizable person, or talent (e.g., an astronaut or a noted personality engaged to narrate a film) appears in NASA material, use for commercial purposes may infringe a right of privacy or publicity. Therefore, permission should be obtained from the recognizable person or talent. If the proposed use of the NASA material could be viewed as a commercial exploitation of that person. However, if the intended use of NASA material is primarily for communicative purposes, i.e., books, newspapers, and magazines reporting facts of historical significance (constitutionally protected media uses), then such uses will generally be considered not to infringe such personal rights.

    ...

    I don't know if the particular image is copyrighted, but clearly the person in photo is not recognizable. You could put any person in that space suit for that photo and not tell the difference.

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