Monkey Copyright… of all the juxtapositions of words; I never thought I’d be entering that particular two word combination into Google. This particular search combo was prompted by (what else) a selection of updates in my twitter feed about a monkey that took a selfie and a takedown notice for the photo in question. Over here it’s ‘Silly Season‘ so my initial assumption was that this was either a hoax, or the particularly florid work of some overheated PR company attempting to corner the press cycle for some film or other.

monkey riding a dog
Not the monkey photo in question, but still a really compelling image, and at least in this case, one where the creator has granted reuse rights (Image courtesy of Joel Telling)

Nope, monkey copyright is the latest entry in the debate about what can or cannot be copyrighted. Or to be more accurate, the endless tit-for-tat of takedown notice and rebuttal that characterizes the use of creative works in the digital age. Frankly, it’s also another entry in the sorry file of arrogance, hubris and dogma that the self appointed guardians of the internet succumb to on an all too frequent basis.

Here’s the facts: In 2011, David Slater a British professional wildlife photographer based in Gloucestershire (in the UK) took a trip to Sulawesi, Indonesia. This trip was for the purpose of taking wildlife photos. As a professional photographer, he clearly intended to profit from this endeavor by selling reproduction rights to the photographs that he took. As part of his trip, he decided to try and take photographs of the Crested Black Macaque, a rare species of primate confined to the islands that make up that part of Indonesia. In fact, he actually shadowed a troop of Macaques in the jungle, for three days. He enlisted the help of a local guide to assist in this effort. He was successful in his photography; returning home with a series of spectacular shots that showcase the species in their natural habitat. If you want to see what those photographs look like, I recommend you visit his website – respecting the source of the images that some of you may already be aware of.

On the 11th July 2011, a version of one of those images was uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, the “database of freely usable media files” by a contributor named Sandstein. The file “Macaca nigra self-portrait.jpg” is the subject of a request for removal by David Slater, who asserts that he has the copyright of the image. Mr Slater discovered the use of the image recently when searching for further images of Black Crested Macaques. On Wednesday of this week, Wikimedia came forth with their considered opinion of his request. I’m reproducing their comments here:

A photographer left his camera unattended in a national park in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. A female crested black macaque monkey got ahold of the camera and took a series of pictures, including some self-portraits. The pictures were featured in an online newspaper article and eventually posted to Commons. We received a takedown request from the photographer, claiming that he owned the copyright to the photographs. We didn’t agree, so we denied the request.

The basis for their refusal is as follows: Under the image itself (Which I am not going to link to) is this statement

This file is in the public domain, because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested

They further state:

To claim copyright, the photographer would have had to make substantial contributions to the final image, and even then, they’d only have copyright for those alterations, not the underlying image. This means that there was no one on whom to bestow copyright, so the image falls into the public domain

In US copyright law non-humans can’t hold copyright, so by Wikimedia’s calculation it must be in the public domain. Why? Well according to Wikimedia, the macaque took the picture.

I’m not joking.

The basis for their claim is this newspaper article in The Telegraph (a brief interview with Mr Slater in 2011). I will now disassemble this dismissal of Mr Slater’s rights. In my opinion, Wikimedia’s attitude here towards somebody’s creative endeavors is appalling.

The first problem is the casual assumption that US law is the only one that applies here. Mr Slater is British and operates from the UK so I’m fairly certain that jurisdiction here is with UK law. Newsflash Wikimedia, you accept media uploaded from users around the globe. You should not consider that US law is the only one that applies. What does UK copyright legislation have to say? Well there’s nothing specific about non-humans, but UK law states that the author of computer generated works “shall be taken to be the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the creation of the work are undertaken” Now these days, a camera is a very sophisticated computer that processes the information taken off a sensor. So this clearly is the applicable part of UK law. It took me about 15 minutes to find the relevant clause by the way. I’m just saying.

Now even if the test is on the basis of US copyright law, there’s still a big problem. Because Wikimedia are relying on quotes from a small filler article in a UK national newspaper as the basis for their assertion that the monkey took the picture. If the definition of “taking a picture” is upheld as “pressed the shutter release button” then we’ve gone down the the rabbit hole. Fortunately I have faith that even if US jurisdiction held in this case, a judge would apply an appropriate set of tests around the circumstances under which our simian friend came to be holding a high end digital SLR. For example s/he might ask how the primate and the camera happened to be in the same place. S/he might ask “How the camera came to be turned on” or “How the digital files from the camera came to be processed electronically and transformed into a reproducible format“. The Macaque isn’t available for cross examination, but I think we can reasonably assume that it doesn’t have access to the necessary equipment needed to effect such a transformation of the raw sensor information. Or the knowledge. In fact I think we can reasonably assume that the creature doesn’t have any sense of what a camera is, or how it works. Of course, the judge could ask the author of the images, how they came to be taken.

Or s/he could visit the authors page on the wonderful Black Crested Macaques of Indonesia, and read on… You’ll find Mr Slater’s photos there. They are amazing. They are also very clearly copyrighted. I want to reproduce a couple of excepts from his page here, so that the hubris and arrogance of Wikimedia in this case can be clearly demonstrated (I’ve underlined a few words for emphasis).

It was about midday on the second day and the monkeys, about 25 strong of all ages, halted for a rest and a grooming session.  It had been a hard day as usual, slashing through tangled and very humid jungle, climbing over and squatting under fallen trees, all with a 20kg backpack on full of expensive camera gear…

I decided to set up the camera on a beanbag on a log, self-timer all set. I was afraid they would run off of course, but they didn’t.  Rather, they grabbed my camera!  Quick thinking had my guide rushing to save it – lesson learnt…

So I put my camera on a tripod with a very wide angle lens, settings configured such as predictive autofocus, motorwind, even a flashgun, to give me a chance of a facial close up if they were to approach again for a play.  I duly moved away and bingo, they moved in, fingering the toy, pressing the buttons and fingering the lens.  I was then to witness one of the funniest things ever as they grinned, grimaced and bared teeth at themselves in the reflection of the large glassy lens…

They played with the camera until of course some images were inevitably taken!  I had one hand on the tripod when this was going on, but I was being prodded and poked by would be groomers and a few playful juveniles who nibbled at my arms…

Here’s the kicker:

But my original intention was never for fame, but purely to get these endangered creatures a bit more publicity and maybe a bit of much needed earnings as well

It took me 5 minutes to find Mr Slater’s page and this moving account of an incredible experience. It is beyond all reasonable doubt that Mr Slater created the entirety of the conditions that allowed his wonderful images to come into being. From the flights and accommodation, to the investment in the kit and the direct work to set up an environment that allowed a record of an interaction between two primate species, creativity was clearly demonstrated at multiple times.

And yet a bunch of anonymous cowards hiding behind the veneer of free information for the world, just decided to ignore the clear and abundant evidence that was just a click away; evidence that utterly discredits any basis for their arrogant dismissal of all his hard work as not meeting their threshold for “substantial contribution to the final image”.

Wikimedia – Take Down These Images! Respect the work that went into their creation, and respect the jurisdiction under which the work was created. And the next time you get a takedown notice, spend a little more time getting to the facts and a little less time wallowing in the superiority of your ideology before you dismiss the claims of the hard working creatives who try to make a living doing what they do.

David Smith

David Smith

David Smith is a frood who knows where his towel is, more or less. He’s also the Head of Product Solutions for The IET. Previously he has held jobs with ‘innovation’ in the title and he is a lapsed (some would say failed) scientist with a publication or two to his name.

View All Posts by David Smith

Discussion

63 Thoughts on "If a Monkey Takes a Photograph, Who Has The Copyright?"

One can buy a standard wildlife photography package with a camera and an infrared trip beam system. By WC’s reasoning none of these shots can be copyrighted because the critter trips the beam. I agree this is stupid.

Simple automated photographs likely are not copyrightable.

With all these photographs — photographs of museum paintings, images captured at ATMs and by immigration officials stamping your passport, Google Maps Street View, aerial reconnaissance photographs — there is no originality to give rise to copyright. These images may have copyright in the few countries that still base copyright protection on “sweat of the brow,” but not in the United States or most countries in the European Union….

Justin Hughes, The Photographer’s Copyright — Photograph as Art, Photograph as Database, 25 Harvard J.L. & Tech. 327, 368–69 (2012) (footnotes omitted).

What language in the US Copyright Act leads Wikimedia to assume that the creator has to be human to qualify as copyright owner? As far as I’m aware, the law refers to the “author,” not specifying whether the “author” needs to be a human being. If that is so, then Wikimedia is simply wrong to assume that this photo is in the public domain. It may not need Slater’s permission, but it would certainly need the monkey’s! Of course, it might have trouble getting the permission orally or in writing.

With the usual “I am not a lawyer” caveats…I’ve read multiple versions of how the picture (which is delightful) came to be. This is the first account I’ve read where the photographer had planned the event and even had a hand on the tripod. If accurate then yes, I’d say that he owns the copyright. If, as in the other accounts, the macaque took the camera then it would be a different story because ownership of the tools, no matter how expensive or how far you traveled with them, doesn’t mean you own the product. If you take paper and pen out of my back pack and draw a picture I couldn’t claim copyright. If this site allowed attachments I’d add a selfie my cat took of herself. I might claim copyright because I own the cat, Mr. Slater does not own the macaque.

The reality at this point is that Mr. Slater is far more likely to be perceived as a spoil sport and a whiner than a defender of his intellectual property. No matter what the outcome is, it IS certain that this incident will be used as the topic of classroom discussion for years to come and the picture itself included in transformative works in support of class room discussion.

BTW, my cat’s selfie is adorable.

He only looks like a spoil sport and a whiner because he is up against an activist movement that thinks intellectual property rights are a moral abomination. There is no reason for Wikimedia to make a federal case of this except to embarrass the photographer and get fans on Twitter to come to their rescue. They could have very easily given the photographer the benefit of the doubt and removed the picture. Instead, they are being bullies.

Indeed, but the publicity is great (as are his pictures). He is presently probably the world’s most famous animal photog.

This is the other questionable deal that is offered by the online conglomerates–sacrifice your work and your copyrights in return for “exposure”. As many who have taken up this bargain have learned, it’s very difficult to eat exposure.

I don’t disagree but for more than a few photographers, exposure has turned into clients and contracts. There are a couple recently who have landed nice ad work after becoming popular on IG. It’s a double edge sword I suppose. There are going to plenty of photographers who have their work poached in exchange for exposure but there will always be a few who parlay that into good paying work. I have a feeling that’s the direction for this particular photographer.

Wikimedia pretty often gets complaints like this, someone asserting they own the copyright to something they don’t; usually stock photo companies who own the original of a photograph of expired copyright, or museums with a painting of expired copyright, but other situations exist. If they honoured every bogus copyright claim, they’d lose a lot more than a single photo (and generally, encourage this kind of unethical behaviour).

Sure, this guy is more sympathetic than a faceless stock photography corporation, but it’s still unethical for him to try to assert ownership of that’s owned by all of us, and is not an isolated case, but opens an ugly precedent for other people trying to take ownership of things in the public domain.

The multiple versions of events not being the one that is described at the time of first publication of the images by the creator himself, on his own website…

Re the product – down the rabbit hole you go! The product here is actually a probability distribution of magnetic particles on disk or electron states in RAM. The ‘original’ only exists on the photographers storage systems. Likelihood is, that the original doesn’t actually exist now as memory cards get reused. Your paper analogy only holds if you give permission to take the tools and use them for some purpose. The act of picture creation is not the act of shutter release. It simply isn’t.

Collette may be on to something, though, which is intent. A lot of law comes down to intent. If the intent was a hope that an animal took an interesting picture then the photographer owns it, just as in my beam breaking case, which is a standard technique. If the camera had simply been stolen then maybe not. If I steal your camera and take pictures with it then you probably do not own them. Or maybe you do! There may even be law on this case.

The law is great fun because it is precise reasoning personified.

If you stole something then you have no rights to it (and therefore anything within ‘it’). Somebody sells you a stolen vehicle – not your property so the original owner still has title over it. Replying to Joe and Sandy below to expand here

You may have missed my point, David S. Suppose I steal your camera and take a picture with it. Who owns the picture? I did not steal the picture, just the camera, as the picture was not in the camera when I stole it. If I steal your bread machine and make bread you do not own the bread.

I am thinking of the case where the monkey steals the camera so there was no intent to have a picture taken on the photographer’s part. The concept I am exploring is the role of intent in establishing ownership of a picture taken by a monkey.

Nope, got your point; probably wasn’t clear myself. If you have no rights to the property in question, there’s nothing to propagate to the uses to which that stuff is put. In the case of the camera, there’s no rights to change the state on the memory card.

You may well be correct that I do not own the pictures, because the camera is stolen, but that is not the intent issue that I am raising. The question is whether you, as the owner of the stolen camera, own these pictures just because it is your camera, when you did not intend that they be taken?

If the monkey in question is same wiki monkey then it didn’t permanently deprive the photographer of the camera, therefor didn’t steal it. If I’m Picasso pick up your pen and I dash off a quick two million pound sketch I doubt you could argue in court that you own the sketch because you owned the pen. Just like you can’t just own a picture because you own the camera. Technically the picture is public domain because the monkey can’t own it anyway because it’s not human. However morally any revenue should obviously go to benefit the habitat that the money lives in, not the entirely greedy photographer who is being so short sighted that it’s stupid…

Maybe for ownership of a work, there has to be both intent and agency. If you stay home with the camera in your bag, hoping that monkey takes a picture, you have intent but no agency. If you bring your camera to the forest for your own use, but the monkey steals it and takes a picture, you have agency, but no intent. If you give the camera to the monkey so that she can take her picture, you have both agency and intent in the creation of the work. (This also covers the optical beam-wildlife situation.)

The problem, in this case, seems to be that we have only Slater’s word that he intended the possibility of the picture and that he acted so as to encourage the event.

If I steal your camera and take pictures with it then you probably do not own them. Or maybe you do! There may even be law on this case.

It’s unclear. Illegality does not automatically nullify copyright. It should perhaps also be noted that the element of conversion (the taking of the camera) is separate from copyright law.

For a long look at the subject (which goes beyond graffiti), see Jamison Davies, Art Crimes? Theoretical Perspectives on Copyright Protection for Illegally Created Graffiti Art, 65 Maine L.R. 27 (2012).

I don’t mean to be flip about this, but I think it comes down to who owns the monkey, if it is owned. The monkey is then a tool of the creator (small “c”), like a paintbrush or typewriter. Yes, this is an amusing situation, but I suspect the IP issues behind it are significant. I am sending my dog out to look for a lawyer.

Maybe, but the monkey isn’t an employee, for sure, so this can’t qualify as “work made for hire.” 🙂

So there’s potentially an interesting IP case, but in reality this isn’t it. The work for hire one is potentially an interesting route to go down, as one could invoke the argument of who owns the copyright in a holiday snap of a couple taken by somebody else… Personally I think that there’s still no dice as the contract might not be written, but by asking somebody (or offering to take) if they wouldn’t mind taking a picture, it’s implicit that unless otherwise stated, the taker is waiving whatever rights they might wish to exert. If they ask for the subsequent image to be sent to them….

Under copyright law, work made for hire applies either when (1) there is an employer/employee relationship and the work done is “within the scope of employment” or when (2) the work fits in one of the enumerated categories of works that can qualify as “specially commissioned.” But, if it’s the latter, a written contract must be signed in advance of the work’s being produced. An oral agreement about who owns a snapshot won’t suffice, and even a written agreement won’t work if it is signed after the snapshot is taken. At that point only a written transfer agreement can change ownership, and it is not considered a work made for hire.

by asking somebody (or offering to take) if they wouldn’t mind taking a picture, it’s implicit that unless otherwise stated, the taker is waiving whatever rights they might wish to exert

Precisely the opposite is the actual state of affairs, unless one assumes that nuances of copyright law are a matter of general knowledge, as well as the ability to predict the future value of a photograph that one is asked to take (which is more likely to be asymmetric in the wrong direction to the extent that it arises).

Reblogged this on DailyHistory.org and commented:
Intellectual property law is a mess. David Smith at the scholarly kitchen has an interesting article asking who owns a copyright if a monkey takes a selfie. One of the key difficulties with copyright law is that the answer may be different depending on where you live. Each country has their own copyright laws and very different attitudes towards private intellectual property rights vs. fair use. Copyright laws try to balance these important policies. We want to protect the rights of artists, but we do not want to allow Shakespeare’s heirs to prevent the creation of West Side Story or Ran.

In the case, the question is slightly different. Under United States law the author owns the copyright and US courts would never give a monkey a copyright. While this may appear to an absurd (but real) example, it is not difficult to imagine this scenario in other ways. Someone asks Hugh Jackman to take a selfie with their camera or someone using a photo booth at your local mall. Should the owner of the camera be allowed to sell Jackman’s selfie to a tabloid or would that be a copyright violation? Who owns those copyrights could have very different answers depending on where you live. What’s different today is that the internet is not under the jurisdiction of any single country’s copyright laws.

Perhaps we should view these images as a “work for hire.” The photographer bartered with the monkeys offering a novel and stimulating play opportunity in exchange for their images. Monkeys as artists’ models.

Except that monkeys, unlike models, do not have property rights. Sad but true.

Where the picture was taken matters more than where someone involved is a citizen. UK law has no relevance here except in the UK. Indonesian copyright law takes precedence in this case. If the work is protected there, as members of the Berne Convention, countries like the US and UK are obliged to protect the work according to their respective laws.. But only if it is protected in the country it was created in.

Having said that, copyright is intended to incentivize creativity. Slate played no creative role in creating this image. He didn’t pose the subjects; he didn’t frame the lens; he didn’t determine settings (as the story talked about the monkeys randomly pushing buttons).

I’m sorry but I think you are wrong. If you can point to the section of law that specifies that the location of creation sets the jurisdiction, I’d be grateful. It’s country of 1st publication. (So the UK then). Even if that is the case – not the USA is it. So the whole monkey not a human, still not applicable.

As for your creativity argument – it’s ridiculous. That might be your personal definition of creativity but there’s nothing in law to support it. Slate created the conditions necessary for the images to exists. He did determine settings. In UK law, as I said, the computer generated works section applies.

Where the picture was taken matters more than where someone involved is a citizen. UK law has no relevance here except in the UK. Indonesian copyright law takes precedence in this case.

No. The venue (and, therefore, choice of law) is where enforcement is being sought. If the infringement originates in the U.S. – which it certainly seems to be – then the U.S. is the proper venue.

Not sure about this bit of the Wikimedia response either: “…This means that there was no one on whom to bestow copyright, so the image falls into the public domain”.

“Public domain” status comes about when copyright has either expired or has been actively waived. I wouldn’t have thought either applied in this case? Just because you can’t work out who holds the copyright, doesn’t make it public domain. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t some great copyright god “bestowing” copyright on anyone either. Copyright exists the moment the work is created (in UK law and for all Berne Convention signatories, anyway).

“But my original intention was never for fame, but purely to get these endangered creatures a bit more publicity and maybe a bit of much needed earnings as well”

Funny he has a problem with this whole copyright issue, considering he got them plenty of publicity that he probably would not have received otherwise.

If people who talk so much without saying anything can have copyright, then why not monkeys as well…

Mr Slater is British and operates from the UK so I’m fairly certain that jurisdiction here is with UK law.

IANAL, but I’d say that this is highly unlikely unless Wikimedia satisfies a minimum-contacts test with the UK.

Serving the content from a host physically located in the UK would probably do it. Otherwise, the UK isn’t particularly special, and if Slater is using the DMCA, it’s obviously US jurisdiction. Any attempt to proceed in the UK on a separate theory would be challenged on the grounds of personal jurisdiction (and, I suppose, comity) and so complicated from an enforcement perspective as to probably be pointless.

According to that link, the infringement is occurring in all Berne Convention countries:

“For example, if a song by a Spanish artist, that qualifies as a protected work under the Berne Convention, is uploaded without authorization by a Malaysian file sharer to their website and is accessible throughout the entire world, it is being infringed in both Malaysia and Spain, as well as potentially in the other 164 Berne Convention countries.”

Remember, our wikimedia uploader grabbed this image from a site that had paid for the rights to reproduce the image. By implication that site was the UK newspaper that published them. Wikimedia ought to understand Berne Convention scope surely. He’s using the DCMA to effect a change, but I don’t think that mandates a claim only via the US courts.

EDIT: just checking up on the concept of minimum contacts – seems that is satisfied here as I can access wikimedia and the infringing image from here in the UK so assuming the concept is applicable of course.

According to that link, the infringement is occurring in all Berne Convention countries

Which is why the only sensible venue is the location of the infringer.

Remember, our wikimedia uploader grabbed this image from a site that had paid for the rights to reproduce the image. By implication that site was the UK newspaper that published them.

I do not see the relevance of this.

Wikimedia ought to understand Berne Convention scope surely. He’s using the DCMA to effect a change, but I don’t think that mandates a claim only via the US courts.

Which puts one back at the beginning.

EDIT: just checking up on the concept of minimum contacts – seems that is satisfied here as I can access wikimedia and the infringing image from here in the UK so assuming the concept is applicable of course.

This does not establish sufficient minimum contacts, as Wikipedia is accessible from anywhere.

This is corrrect: intellectual property created by a real chattel belongs to the owner of the chattel. In this case, that means that the copyright would lie with the Indonesian government.

Only if ‘taking a photograph’ = pressing the shutter release button, and absolutely nothing else about the process. FYI UK law says that wild animals cannot be absolutely owened. Ownership is qualified apparently. No idea of Indonesian law here or what that might mean with respect to copyright. But as I say, it’s moot anyway as the definition of taking a photograph is the issue. Taking a photograph is clearly and self evidently a multi-stage act.

But as I say, it’s moot anyway as the definition of taking a photograph is the issue.

Not if one is suing for damages resulting from conversion of intellectual property, which, as I’ve noted, is a separate question under US law.

My previous response was wrongly conceived: If one looks at College of Charleston v. Ham decision, federal copyright law preempts state-law claims for conversion (in Ham, “the taking and conversion of the images and photographs … for personal and commercial gain”) unless there is an “extra element of the state cause of action … which changes the nature of the action so that it is ‘qualitatively different’ from a copyright infringement claim.”

The primary example of an “extra element” given in the Opinion is “where there was actually physical property converted.” Therefore, David Smith is almost certainly correct that copyright law would govern.

I think a common sense approach in that if any author human or otherwise does not require any copyright from such situations then the copyright should automatically fall to the owner of the equipment. Unless of course the monkey can come forth and claim said copyright. Down the rabbit hole then is the question of timer controlled shooting or time lapse where under the assumption of wiki the author would only have rights to the first photo. If I set up a computer to take 100 photos every 60 seconds then under US law I have a copyright to 1 and the camera and computer 99. They should just admit that they are wrong and things have moved on.

They should just admit that they are wrong and things have moved on.

Whether Wikimedia is wrong (and, if so, in what way) is something that can only be settled by a court. However, I think that it is clear that they’ve backed themselves into this corner by virtue of the image’s failing their own fair-use “test,” which boils down to “could a different image be used to the same effect without this analysis?”

If I own the device and photograph/film something, I own the copyright for 50 years from date of creation. If I am using an employer device, or working for an employer, they own the equipment. I own the copyright with my name, but they own the intellectual property. can’t be published without their permission. If I am a scientist and I create a cure for a disease, the people I work for own that creation. So I can’t sell that information about it because it’s the exclusive property of the company. If I work in IT for a big computer software company, everything I create is their property. I can’t take it with me.

I think in some of these cases there would have to be something like a prior non-disclosure or ownership agreement before the restrictions you cite exist. These rights are negotiable.

Monkey. Equal rights for all!

(Monkey could use his thumb print as signature to license his work.)

Credit must go to Monkey cause Monkey is creative and Monkey rules! 🙂

I think no. Did the monkey turn the camera on (power it up) himself? Where did he get the camera? The wildlife photographer who owned the camera and set up the shoot should be entitled to copyright. Without the photographer present there would be no camera at all.

This whole debacle is just silly. When global villages collide! US law vs UK law.

Driven by indignation I put pen to paper in my blog – you can read it here: http://wp.me/p1LWhS-le

It is good to hear that Slater has turned this uproar into a fund-raising opportunity – Sulawesi Crested Black Macaques Conservation Project: http://www.picanova.com/monkeyselfie/

See the power of turning a negative into a positive. MONKEYS RULE!

I’m sorry but there’s a point still obscure to me and I don’t see it being addressed anywhere. Where did the guy who uploaded the picture on wikimedia took the picture from? The source of the picture should have stated something about the copyright. Therefore, the uploader either ignored the source rights (committing a fraud), or he/she assumed the rights just by looking at the picture (“it’s a monkey, ergo it’s public domain”) which is ridicolous.

Where did the guy who uploaded the picture on wikimedia took the picture from? The source of the picture should have stated something about the copyright.

When this story first appeared three years ago, there was no notice in the original appearance, not that this is important to whether there is infringement.

* This is a pretty good starting place if one wants to start looking at the previous legal rag-chewing.

This is obvious. The monkey holds the copyright for the images he took. I’m surprised most people in the comments disagree.

If a *blank* takes a photograph, the copyright is granted to the *blank*. Its a simple formula. Whatever you substitute for *blank*, that entity is what holds the copyright. It doesn’t matter if the monkey took the photo accidentally. If I take a photo accidentally, I still hold the copyright on it.

Monkeys are world citizens just like every other kind of animal on the planet. Just because humans have a slight difference in their DNA, and a huge superiority complex, doesn’t mean that humans own everything. Monkeys have intelligence, intention, and sentience. Thats why they move around, instead of just sit there like rocks.

We can not see into another being’s brain, to see if their thoughts are “worthy”. If someone has a severe mental disability, they could have brain function that is closer to a monkey than a human. But if that person took a photo, they would still hold the copyright.

Imagine this: instead of a photographer bringing his camera out to the jungle, a photographer invents a camera that is specifically designed to fit into a monkey’s hand. It has a differently shaped trigger to match the monkey’s grip. If a photographer gave these cameras to monkeys, they would likely run off into the jungle with them, and likely take photos. These photos, of course, like all photos, would belong to the person who is taking them. In this case it happens to be a monkey.

Just because humans are the only ones who make laws, doesn’t mean that we are superior to other animals. We as humans need to accept that the natural world has many other occupants, and these other occupants are sentient beings that have rights. Acknowledging the rights of other animals will make the world a better place.

Wikimedia is right, and this post is wrong. Sorry.

-SCL

This is obvious. The monkey holds the copyright for the images he took.

Only to the extent that one ignores actual copyright law.

Wikimedia is right, and this post is wrong. Sorry.

You fail to note that your contention isn’t Wikimedia’s in the first place.

After weeks of planning and saving money, I pack my gear, eat a quick breakfast, grab my passport, ride to the airport, get on plane to fly thousands of miles, make multiple connections, de-plane, go through customs, all the while toting 20kg of camera gear, get a taxi, find lodging, eat local food, exhausted my fall into bed, wake early for a long day of driving, hire local guides, put on hiking boots, march for three days through rain forest – enduring scratches, bites, stings, fatigue, dehydration, etc., hacking my way through undergrowth, study animal behavior to enable me to take the best picture, set up the circumstance and conditions, engineer the shot, steady the tripod, wait patiently while monkeys pick at my hair and nibble at my legs, AND THEN IT HAPPENS…the picture is captured!!
Now because it was a good shot and people like it …….it should BE FREE!!! Just like everything else in the US!!! If I like it and I want it it should be FREE!!
Free food
Free phones
Free medical
Free citizenship
Free schooling
Free housing
Free transportation
Free contraceptives
Free utilities
Free internet
Oh, and if you don’t have the sense to make it FREE – never mind HOW MUCH it cost you, then we’ll just STEAL IT and say you had no right to it in the first place!
The argument may be a legally-sound stretch, but ethically and morally it reeks!

Oh, and if you don’t have the sense to make it FREE – never mind HOW MUCH it cost you, then we’ll just STEAL IT and say you had no right to it in the first place!

I suggest that you see the reference provided above (PDF) regarding the “sweat of the brow” doctrine’s being moribund, as you have made great use of the idea. If you would argue that “eat[ing] a quick breakfast” and on and on somehow strengthens a claim, then you necessarily imply that some famous photographer who arrived at his destination in first-class luxury would have less of a claim under otherwise identical circumstances.

I’m with Wikipedia.

Create conditions is not the same as create an image. The engineers that designed and built the camera (any camera, film or digital) could say that owns the copyright of every image taken with their machines because they created the conditions with which a buyer could take photographs.

The image was created by the macaque, not by the photographer. He set the parameters in the machine but photography is about, I think, the composition get with help of a machine sensible to light. The composition was triggered by the macaque, not by the photographer except he has prediction powers.

Comments are closed.