Monkey Selfies Cause Copyright Controversy

August 6, 2014 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Photographers | 11 Comments | |
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Back in 2011, British wildlife photographer David Slater was out and about photographing black macaques in the jungles of Indonesia when he noticed that one of the animals had snatched his camera and started snapping away with it. Most of the photos ended up being (predictably) blurry but a few of them, including a couple of self-portraits, turned out to be exceptionally good and earned Mr Slater international recognition. A few years later a Wikimedia editor added the shots to the Wikimedia Commons collection, making them freely available to anyone; which in turn prompted the photographer to file a request for removal on copyright grounds. The foundation has turned down the request claiming that "there was no one on whom to bestow copyright" as the picture had been taken by the monkey itself rather than the photographer. Ready to fight for his rights, Mr Slater is now taking the case to court. Even though it is not exactly common for animals to take photos of themselves, the ruling - whatever it may be - is likely to have far-reaching consequences as many wildlife shots are routinely taken without the photographer actually tripping the shutter (remote cameras, intervalometers and focus traps come to mind). If the court were to rule that these images are "lacking human authorship" and cannot be registered for copyright protection, the authors of such images might need to start worrying. (The illustration above shows one of the disputed Wikimedia entries as it appeared at the time of publication.)

Via The Telegraph

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#1 simples

It's really quite simple. The photographer is the one that edited, and released the photo, and so copy right belongs to him.

If you write a new computer program on company time using your work computer, that program actually belongs to the company.
In this case, the monkey was like an unpaid intern, using the photographers camera gear, which then went on to be edited and published by the photographer.

End of Story. The wiki site is wrong. Nuff said.

7:19 am - Thursday, August 7, 2014

#2 Bob

The owner of the copyright in the photograph is the "photographer" – the person who creates it, by default. However, where a photograph is taken by an employee in the course of employment, the first owner of the copyright is the employer, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
The photographer is the monkey it was not in the employment of the camera owner,so the monkey took the picture.
The monkey did not enter any restrictive arrangement with the camera owner,in respect to its picture taking.
The monkey borrowed the camera as one would borrow a camera from a friend, the monkey did not own the equipment but does own the photograph, the monkey is the creator of the image.
The image belongs to the monkey.

9:22 am - Thursday, August 7, 2014

#3 dan

It was he's camera and he chose to publish it, It should belong to him.
If a brick fell on a camera and set it off would the resulting photo belong to the brick?

Maybe they need to pay the monkey royalties....or the brick.

10:07 am - Thursday, August 7, 2014

#4 MarioV

This is ridiculous.
The monkey has no legal status. Anything taken with the camera belongs to the owner of the camera..even if he dropped the camera and it landed on the shutter, fluking the creation of a selfie.

Otherwise, whats he going to do, take Mr Monkey or Mr Ground to court over ownership?

11:08 am - Thursday, August 7, 2014

#5 randomuser

Does Wikipedia possesses A MODEL RELEASE SIGNED BY THIS MONKEY (if this monkey is considered to be the owner of the picture) ??? =)

1:15 pm - Thursday, August 7, 2014

#6 Bob

You are correct MarioV, but the copyright law states that the photographer holds the copyright.
In reality the photographs were an accident, the argument is can the owner of a camera that is used by a third party either by accident or with intent claim the copyright of the content that the owner did not create.
He cannot as he did not take the content, he cannot claim copyright on content he did not create,
The content in question is free of copyright because there are two conditions for copyright 70 years after the death of a known photographer or 70 years after the publication of the photograph.
As there is no named photographer you cannot pursue any copyright, also you cannot pursue the 70 years after publication because you have to atribute the copyright to a owner and the ownership can only be transfered in the lifetime of the original copyright holder and as the copyright owner is a monkey that cannot happen.
This is a public domain photograph as it has been published with no copyright that is attributable to a owner or photographer.
That is the law, he should have kept quiet about the origines of the photos and how they were taken
As far as copyright is concerned it is dead he maybe the keeper and the owner of the images but he cannot claim a copyright that does not exist.

1:40 pm - Thursday, August 7, 2014

#7 Fairly Reasoner

If we continue to debate such nonsense, we deserve a future on the Planet Of The Apes.

3:23 pm - Thursday, August 7, 2014

#8 MarioV

I might agree with you if this were about a "Third Party". However, an animal or inanimate object are not a Third Party.

8:30 pm - Thursday, August 7, 2014

#9 MarioV

As a further example, consider an automated Red Light traffic camera. Who owns the photos? The Police or the steel pole its on and up for grabs/debate?

8:34 pm - Thursday, August 7, 2014

#10 MarioV

Actually, the photographer could argue that he set the self-timer, let the monkey hold the camera (the monkey didnt press anything) and the shutter went off by itself.
That's his work.

8:46 pm - Thursday, August 7, 2014

#11 Dave

If the photographer posted the picture without any copyright info or his name in the corner than it belongs to where ever he posted it to, and because the photo was a hit he wants money and since we left a comment photographyblog can do what they like with it.....

9:20 pm - Thursday, August 7, 2014