Who is this?
It’s obviously an astronaut, probably one of “ours.” But do you know which one? It’s Bruce McCandless, who took a walk in space in 1984 and is suing the singer, Dido, for using his image on an album cover.
It’s a great legal question. McCandless isn’t asserting copyright violation, but a violation of his “publicity rights.”
If this really is a publicity rights claim (and, if anyone has the actual filing, I’d love to see it, and post it here), it’s difficult to see how much of a claim he has. It’s not as if he’s identifiable in the image, or that anyone will see it and think: “Hey, I’ll buy this album because I know astronaut Bruce McCandless endorsed it.” That’s ridiculous. Most people will have no idea who the astronaut is, nor will they even care. This seems like yet another blatant money grab, made possible due to the ever increasing (and dangerous) belief that we own “rights” to imaginary concepts.
It also leads to the question of what rights people in news images have in controlling the use and distribution of their likeness, whether they can be identified or not. For that we turn to our lawyer friends in the News Cut community.
By the way, if you were alive in 1984, you might be in this picture, too.