Assuming you haven't been under a rock, there's a decent chance that you've seen astronaut Chris Hadfield's rendition of David Bowie's Space Oddity (with the lyrics conveniently changed to skip the whole dying in space part). The video was released just before Hadfield returned to earth, and completely fit with Hadfield's time on the International Space Station, where he became the world's first serious social media expert from space -- tweeting, Tumbling and YouTubing up a storm. But... filming a cover song and releasing it via YouTube from space had some people wondering: can you untangle the copyright issues here? Thankfully, Glenn Fleishman dug in over at the Economist (which, lamely, still refuses to name their writers, but now provides the "initials" of bloggers, so you can parse out who's who), and explained what a fine mess it is.
The punchline here is that it doesn't really matter, because after a bunch of back and forth negotiations, they got all the permissions they needed directly from David Bowie. But, assuming others start going up into space (yay, private space tourism), this issue is going to be raised sooner or later. Glenn points out that it's kind of messy, because different countries have very different compulsory licensing laws for cover songs, and there are no compulsories for sync licenses, which are needed to put the song to a video. There was also the issue of the International Space Station having different sections "owned" by different countries, and the official agreement says that it matters where creation happens -- so if the video had been done in all different parts of the space station, it potentially could have been a mess (though, it looks like it was all filmed in parts owned by NASA).
While there's no issue with this specific case, Glenn alerts us to a paper from a few years ago that lays out how copyright in space is about to get complicated:
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