The case of the monkey selfie

Photo by David Slater’s camera via Wikimedia.

Some years ago, a monkey got ahold of David Slater’s camera and took one of the best selfies in the history of monkeys taking selfies.

Who owns the copyright if the monkey took the picture? It’s shaping up as one of the most fascinating copyright debates in recent years.

The monkey can’t own the copyright because copyrights can only be held by humans.

Wikimedia Foundation insists there is no copyright.

“Some of their editors think it should be put back up,” Slater tells the Telegraph. “I’ve told them it’s not public domain, they’ve got no right to say that its public domain. A monkey pressed the button, but I did all the setting up.”

“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,” Wikimedia counters.

“It’s a great final-exam question for a copyright class,” June Besek, executive director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media, and the Arts at Columbia Law School, tells Slate. “Under the copyright law as it’s been interpreted, there has to be human authorship for there to be copyright. So I would say there isn’t copyright on the photo.”

Related: Wikipedia's monkey selfie ruling is a travesty for the world's monkey artists (Guardian)