Who Owns Copyright On A Selfie Taken By A Monkey?

If you think that it should go to the photographer who created the conditions such that the monkey was in a position to release that shutter, then you'd be in disagreement with Wikimedia.


Here's the photo in question, on the left. It's a female crested macaque in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. She picked up David Slater's camera and managed to snap a selfie, which has since gone viral, and was uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

The claim is the the photo "is in the public domain, because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested."

Slater, however, disagrees. "A monkey pressed the button," he told The Telegraph, "but I did all the setting up."

Intellectual property lawyer Brad Newberg sides with Wikimedia. He told The Verge, "just because [Slater] owns the camera, he can't own the photograph, because he didn't take the photograph. He didn't choose the lighting, he didn't choose the angle... [But] if the photographer actually developed it in a certain way, made some tweaks, used some lighting to make some original choices, and said essentially 'Look at my collaboration with this monkey,' then he would have had some part of the creative process."


Read the fascinating discussion over at Wikimedia Commons. Then let us know what you think.

Should the photo belong to Slater, or is it the creative work of a monkey? Is there any sense in which the monkey should own the copyright, something that - at the moment, at least - is not possible under US legislation? For that matter, who owns the rights to the paintings that animals create in zoos and sanctuaries as part of their enrichment routines?


[The Verge; The Telegraph]

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