US Copyright Office: Photos Taken by Animals Have No Copyright. Nor Do Photos Taken by God.

Two weeks ago, the story of the selfie-taking monkey gave me what I had thought was the best article title I was ever going to get to right. I was wrong. This is the best article title that I’ve ever gotten to write.

For those who missed it, around the beginning of this month Wikipedia was caught in a bit of controversy for its ruling on photographs taken by a monkey with photographer David Slater’s camera, saying that Slater had no copyright to them since he wasn’t their photographer. In a update to the story equally as bizarre as the story itself, the US Copyright Office released a 1,222-page document establishing new policies and reaffirming existent stances set on copyright law; touching on the subject at hand, the Office basically said that a picture taken by a monkey is unclaimed intellectual property.

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Wikimedia: Because the Monkey Pressed the Shutter, It Owns the Picture

The two pictures above were taken by British nature photographer David Slater in 2011, when a black macaque walked over to him and hijacked his camera, proceeding to take numerous amounts of selfies. With the pictures going viral, they found themselves on Wikimedia’s Commons page, where they’ve been available as public domain. The problem? When David Slater requested the pictures be taken down, Wikimedia refused – the reason being that because it was the animal pressing the shutter, the photo didn’t actually belong to him.

It’s safe to say that Wikimedia might be going a bit bananas (I’m sorry.) here, because what they’re basically saying is that since the monkey took the picture, it owns the copyright.

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