If a Monkey Steals Your Camera, Who Owns the Photos?

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You can't forget those adorable self-portraits taken by a group of vain monkeys on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The shots are amazing, so amazing that a controversy is brewing over their copyright.

You see, the monkeys took the images using a camera owned by photographer David J Slater. They stole the camera which Slater later retrieved. Hundreds of monkey photos were then processed by Slater and a select few were distributed by Caters News.


So who in this chain owns the rights to these photos? Is it the monkeys who took the pictures? The man who owns the camera but didn't take the photos? Or the news agency that merely sent them out? This issue has not been ironed out, but it could be soon.

Techdirt asked the same copyright question last week and now they have received a take down notice from Caters News. The news agency claims Techdirt is using these monkey images "without David's or our permission" and asks them to "remove these images from your site immediately."


Techdirt is claiming fair use, while Caters News Agency is implying they own the rights to these images. It's a convoluted topic that may take some time to figure out. Meanwhile, we want to know your opinion on this matter. Who do you think owns the images? And do they have a right to pull them down? [Techdirt; Photo: David Slater/Caters]

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