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Astronaut McCandless Sues Singer Dido Over ‘Free Flying’ Photo

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`Safe Trip Home'
Dido Album Cover

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Former NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless sued pop singer Dido for what he said was unauthorized use of a photo of his 1984 space flight for an album cover.

McCandless said in a complaint filed Sept. 30 in federal court in Los Angeles that he never gave permission for Dido to use the photograph that shows him “free flying” about 320 feet away from the space shuttle Challenger. The photograph is used on the cover of Dido’s 2008 album “Safe Trip Home.”

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, also names Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment and Getty Images Inc. as defendants. McCandless said in the complaint that Sony was informed as early as June of last year that the use of his image was unauthorized.

The 1984 photograph was taken when McCandless tested the so-called manned maneuvering unit, a nitrogen jet propelled backpack, according to the complaint. The photograph taken by the shuttle’s co-pilot shows McCandless floating in the distance against a backdrop of black outer space and the earth’s blue atmosphere.

“McCandless’ Feb. 7, 1984, flight remains the only occasion on which the manned maneuvering unit has been flown to such a significant distance from a shuttle and allowed such photographs to be taken,” the former astronaut said in the complaint.

Persona Infringed

The suit doesn’t allege copyright infringement, only infringement of his persona.

Dido, born Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong, became well known when rapper Eminem sampled one of her songs for his 2000 hit “Stan.” She was named best British female artist by the British Phonograph Industry in 2002 and 2004. “Safe Trip Home” is her third album.

Danielle Romeo, a spokeswoman for Dido’s management company Nettwerk Music Group, didn’t immediately return a call to her office yesterday.

Liz Young, a spokeswoman for Sony Music Entertainment, declined to comment on the lawsuit. Jodi Einhorn, a spokeswoman for Getty Images, had no immediate comment.

The case is Bruce McCandless v. Sony Music Entertainment, 10-07323, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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