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Monkey Takes Picture of Itself: Who Owns the Copyright?

     
2:57 pm on Aug 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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This is an interesting story of copyright ownership.

One argument is that the monkey has no right to the image and, in any case, would have no way to deal with royalties that may be due.

The other argument is that the photographer set up the shot with his equipment. The monkey could not have taken the shot without the photographer's equipment or set-up.

The online site, Wikipedia, has rejected a photographer's request to remove a set of photos of a crested black macaque because the photos were taken by the monkey.Monkey Takes Picture of Itself: Who Owns the Copyright? [bbc.co.uk]


Whatever the truth of the matter, it's a great picture!
3:24 pm on Aug 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Ha, nearly double-posted this one. I don't think animals can own property, real or intellectual. The human photographer owned the equipment, the media, and set it up. Who physically pushed the button doesn't seem all that important. If the photographer's assistant triggered the shot, would that person own the rights?

Seems like Wikipedia being contrary. Big surprise.
3:26 pm on Aug 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If the person who gave the camera borrowed it from somebody else who owns the picture, the person who gave the camera to the monkey or the person who owns the camera?
3:56 pm on Aug 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If the monkey had snatched his firearm instead of the camera and caused mayhem, the monkey would be prosecuted, right? The photographer would not be held responsible, right? Or is it a difference of ownership rights vs. responsibility rights? The photographer owns the image imho.
4:02 pm on Aug 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Who physically pushed the button doesn't seem all that important.

If the photographer had claimed it was an artistic concept that he had set up, whereby any passing monkey might use his equipment, then he would have a solid claim for the copyright.

But he appears to have admitted somewhere along the line that it was an accident.

So he cannot really claim to be the author of the artistic work.

...
6:36 pm on Aug 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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What happens with all the photos from passport photobooths? Presumably the company must own the copyright then, according to these rules, because it's their equipment and they pressed the shutter.
so they can do whatever they want with our faces.
4:48 pm on Aug 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The US Copyright Office has now ruled on this case in new guidance:

Source: [theguardian.com...]

...
5:26 pm on Aug 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for this update Samizdata.
The UK laws are very similar and agree in this case with the USCO findings. Apparently there is some question under the UK laws that takes into consideration the creative contributions made by the person claiming authorship and in this case, that has not been decided. Mr. Slater is a UK citizen and can still make a court challenge. From the article:
It is the amount of effort, arrangement or creative input that is made, which determines copyright.

"The IPO indicates that under UK law animals cannot own copyright," Bianca D’Orsi, spokeswoman for Intellectual Property Office told the Guardian. "However the question as to whether the photographer owns copyright is more complex. It depends on whether the photographer has made a creative contribution to the work and this is a decision which must be made by the courts," she said.

The deciding factor for this case would be convincing a court that his creative contribution to the resulting photo was significant enough to give him the author rights he's seeking. I don't know that I would try to have that decided in court at my expense. Although he obviously went to considerable expense and effort to journey with the equipment to that location, the question would rest on his creative contribution to the work in dispute only.

(BTW, a warning- I clicked on the link to the USCO Compendium in the article thinking I could read the pertinent information but instead a got a 1222 page pdf of their entire Compendium..)
5:58 pm on Aug 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It depends on whether the photographer has made a creative contribution to the work

I made this point in my first post.

If the photographer had intentionally set up the equipment so that passing monkeys might use it, then his "creative contribution" would be hard to challenge.

But if, as seems to be the case, it was all an accident, then he made no "creative contribution" and he would not be entitled to copyright protection.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it's a great picture!

Indeed, possibly the only interesting "selfie" ever taken.

...
 

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