We have frequently discussed the many concerns that have been voiced regarding the age and limitations of copyright law. As technology continues to evolve, certain groups are pushing for stronger copyright infringement penalties in cases of piracy. In an increasingly global economy, there is also unease about international copyright protection. On May 22, an article published in the Economist took the copyright discussion literally out of this world, asking, “How does copyright work in space?”
The article came in the aftermath of the YouTube video of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield playing guitar and singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on the International Space Station (ISS). The roughly five-minute video has been viewed more than 15 million times ever since being published in mid-May, but as the Economist noted, with the ISS circling the globe, it “had the potential to create a tangled web of intellectual property issues.”
“Commander Hadfield could have made matters even more complicated by broadcasting live as he sang to an assembled audience of fellow astronauts for an onboard public performance while floating from segment to segment of the ISS,” the Economist said. “That is because the space station consists of multiple modules and other pieces (called “elements”) under the registration of the United States, the European Space Agency (ESA) consortium, Russia and Japan. The agreement governing the ISS makes it clear (in Article 5) that the applicable laws, including those governing IP rights, depend on which part of it an astronaut is in.”
Of course, there were no such issues in this case because Hadfield obtained permission to record and distribute the song. Still, with technological advancements making the possibilities of space travel more of a reality than a fantasy, the Economist noted that a 2008 paper from London-based intellectual property expert J.A.L. Sterling, “Space Copyright Law: the new dimension,” lists “dozens more potentially problematic scenarios that could arise.” The paper concludes by noting that “we must visualize a fundamental change in our concept of copyright and related rights: one that moves away from the territorial to the universal …”
These are fascinating issues to consider, but if you are currently in the middle of a copyright issue here on planet Earth, Los Angeles business litigation attorney has more than 25 years of experience representing clients in a variety of complex intellectual property claims. You can use the form on this page or you can contact our firm at (323) 653-3900 to have our Los Angeles copyright infringement lawyer review your case.
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