A fascinating copyright case


The Herald reports:

Staring straight into the camera, lips pulled back into a grin – it could be regarded as a perfect “selfie”.

The series of “self-portraits” of a crested black macaque monkey were shared around the world over the internet and on social media.

But the now famous images are at the centre of a bizarre dispute over who owns the pictures.

David Slater, the British nature photographer whose camera captured the picture, has asked Wikimedia, the organisation behind Wikipedia, to remove the image.

He claims its inclusion in a media library that allows other websites to use it free of charge is harming his ability to make a living.

But Wikimedia has rejected his request, claiming the macaque that pressed the shutter on the camera owns the of the image, not Mr Slater, who now faces a legal bill estimated at 10,000 ($19,900) to take the matter to court.

He said: “If the monkey took it, it owns copyright, not me; that’s their basic argument. What they don’t realise is that it needs a court to decide that.

What a fascinating case. Copyright generally rests with the person who takes the photo, unless they are being paid by someone else to take it. So who owns the copyright when a non human takes the photo?

Does the fact the photo was taken on his camera give him some secondary claim to copyright?

Would it matter if he had encouraged the monkey to take the photo? Could he argue he had creative control?

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