July 17, 2011
Can this monkey copyright his self portrait?
There's a wonderful kerfuffle going on right now around this photo. It's a self portrait, taken by a macaque monkey in Indonesia, shortly after the monkey nipped the camera of nature photographer David Slater (evidently the monkey accidentally snapped the shots while looking at its reflection in the lens). By itself the pictures are charming, but then the question arose, who owns the copyright to the photos?
The company that distributes Slater's work, Cater News Agency, wasted no time in claiming the copyright. But not so fast! The website TechDirt posted an essay pointing out that by default the photographer of a picture holds the original copy. Which in this case would be the monkey. But in many nation's copyright laws (including the US) it specifically that copyright applies only to works made by humans. So maybe no one holds the copyright.
Of course, Cater News Agency is adamantly against that point of view, photo agency's business model being based on strong copyright enforcement.
Art Info has all of the details.