Astronaut Sues Dido, Getty Over Album Cover Image

©1984/NASA Mission Specialist Bruce McCandless II "free flying" to a distance of 320 feet from the space shuttle Challenger, February 12, 1984

A former NASA astronaut has filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles, charging British pop star Dido with unauthorized use of the astronaut’s likeness on an album cover. Also named as defendants were Dido’s agent, her record companies, and Getty Images, which allegedly licensed the image.

Bruce McCandless is shown on the cover of Dido’s “Safe Trip Home” album floating in space above planet earth, several hundred feet away from a space shuttle where a fellow astronaut photographed him. The image (shown here) was shot in 1984, when McCandless was testing a nitrogen-powered jet pack that allows astronauts to venture untethered from space shuttles.

McCandless’s face is not recognizable–he is dwarfed by outer space and planet earth in the image, which was shot from afar. But according to his lawsuit, the Dido album cover identifies him as the astronaut in the picture. And the same image (shown at right) appears on NASA’s web site, identifying McCandless as the subject of the photo.

McCandless says in his claim that the use of the image for commercial purposes without his consent is a violation of his right of privacy and publicity. He is seeking a court order to bar the defendants from continuing to use the image, and unspecified monetary damages.

The defendants have not yet responded formally to the suit.

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