Social Media and Engagement Editor and photographer for the Telegraph.

Who owns the monkey selfie?

Posted 4 years.

22 Comments

  • norman douglas - 5 months ago

    I love the fact of wikimedia and sit on my duff before this retina screen in agreement with many of the organization's positions, perspectives, and actions regarding the gravity — the importance of our attention to, the necessity for our awareness of underlying principles that favor free and open expression [and awareness of principles opposed to these freedoms], the obligation to maintain and ensure free and open expression; the fundamental right of free assembly to share, maintain and ensure free and open expression, the free and open exchange of creative processes and thinking; the fundamental right of free assembly to share, maintain and ensure resistance to police and military and state and corporate control, proscription, surveillance of our otherwise unfettered access to each and sundry via such combines to individual accounts — of collectively safeguarding the unrestricted access of individual persons to the free flow of global communication.

    And yet, as a freelance culture worker, I'm unable to find common cause with the wiki org's decision to frustrate a fellow freelance culture worker's ability to generate income. The fact that in little more than a single decade, digital technology has led managerial and HR ops to redefine (and to often combine) descriptions of skilled jobs once clearly worker-defined by generations of nationally unionized workers in the media arts and sciences has not gone unnoticed. By the same token, AI has neither actually nor implicitly eliminated — nor even remotely been rumored to feasibly menace — the human production via intellectual labor of intellectual product that at least one faction peculiar to the varied staunchly autonymic — no, not autonomous — collegians we lay persons and other mental gimps lump under rubrics such as (with or without the tacit modifier "zealous-") cyberneticians / cybernauts / techies / techés (pronounced tech-AYS) who claim that their all-too human endeavors shall render so much humanly originated production processes and products moot. My friend Toyo Tsuchiya can produce no more due to a one-way ticket issued in his home the other night by a fleet-footed Grim Reaper (whom I predict) no AI shall rival.

    As such, one worker produces photos. Production is the work done by producers. At times, the producer works alone. At times, the producer works with one or more other workers. When a photographer's assistant triggers the shutter, the photographer is generally credited as the photographer. Marcus Burnett is not credited as the photographer when he has assisted Bruce Weber. Why mock the expenditure of Mr Slater? To do so mocks every photographer. Why alienate many who support Wiki? Mr Slater produced the images and distributed them with the help of other workers. Did Mr Slater challenge the work produced by wiki? Did he belittle the some especially stringed sequences of arrays plugged into if/then queries coded by piratesbay coders? Did he forward proposals that advocate for writers of wiki entries to claim fair and just prevailing wage compensation (30,000 euros per annum re Thomas Piketty's universal wage calculation) by posting requests for donations across the wiki domain?

    I'm starting to suspect that someone has unleashed a web-contagion, a virus that draws the mean streak out of users who once aspired to a shared humanity. This virus starts by supplanting one's faith in humanity with faith in cybernetics. No longer fettered by any taint of the "spirit of the commons," the virus settles in, triggers the mean streak and guffaws as the sparks of enmity ignite willy-nilly. No wonder so many utter screed of ardent ire and injury at this complex of commiseration and the commerce of Mammon.

    Alas, let us bare our asses for the biting and hope that somewhere out here there are souls long lost that yet await to be found.

    Peace. Love. And Understanding and shit...

    Norman Douglas

  • Alec moses - 4 years ago

    Press the button is the easiest bit in photography. However planning and the thought process involved is the most important. There is more work involved before execution. Like all art forms, a mistake usually make the image as was the case in this instance. There is for is no freebies. Let the image do the talking. Publishing the background to an image can come back and bite you like Mr Slater. Thousands of art-works are gathering dust due to internet related issues.Wise up and own up Wikipedia.

  • Anon - 4 years ago

    Easy:

    PUBLIC DOMAIN

    It's not about who you think should own it, but it's about what the copyright law says about who is the copyright owner.

    Copyright law:
    The monkey shot the photo on it's own. Since the monkey is an uncontrolled living creature and no controlled computer, it would be the copyright owner. But animals can't be copyright owners, so no one is -> public domain

    But nevertheless: The court's decision counts in the end.

  • Null - 4 years ago

    I've read a book on copyright law in regards to photography and it detailed the law is very clear on who owns the copyright to a photograph. The person that takes the photo. So maybe 'person' will be called into question. Maybe the courts will declare the monkey is a person. Hah.

  • Hkees - 4 years ago

    If my friend takes a great picture with my great camera, it's my friend's picture and he owns the © even though he shot it with my camera. Wikipedia is right.
    Mr Slater must feel very sorry he didn't simply say he shot the monkey portrait himself!

  • Richard Jefferies - 4 years ago

    It is tge same when an lnimal takes its picture by infrared sensor or a trip switch. The photographer owning and setting up the kit owns the copyright. If not wildlife photography ceases to be economocally viable

  • Katharine Kearns - 4 years ago

    Maybe since Mr. Slater and the Monkey are neck and neck in ownership, Mr. Slater will be granted his copyright and can give some money to a preservation group associated with the monkey who took the photo. He is right, he was there to take a photo and thought of the idea. But maybe he could help the monkey too.

  • snails - 4 years ago

    Stop talking about common sense. This is not a matter of common sense, it's a matter of law. Wikimedia's interpretation of the subtlties of copyright law are correct. Although Mr Slater had intent to photograph the macaques, he cannot be shown to have intended to take the particular photograph in question, since he freely admits he was not in posession of the camera at the time. Ownership of the equipment is utterly irrelevant.

    It's also true that non-human entities are not entitled to automatic copyright, so the copyright is not bestowed upon the macaque. As much as I sympathise with Mr Slater - and as much as this flies in the face of common sense - the photograph is now in the public domain, in accordance with copyright law.

  • Thrasher - 4 years ago

    Mr. Slater is a British Nature Photographer. That is his profession. Mr. Slater traveled to Indonesia to practice his profession. He was successful in capturing these wonderful photographs, and they're even more remarkable because these monkeys became a part of the creative process. Had he not shared that part of the story, would the photos be less remarkable? No. Mr. Slater owns the copyright and deserves to be compensated, just as anyone else is compensated for their work! Shame on wikimedia, as another commenter said, "they're messing with not only Mr. Slater, but with all artists, and everyone actually." Plain and simple, it's theft, and sets a bad precedenc, that what an artist creates is free to use in any manner for the profit of others without due compensation to the creator. Have some integrity, and show some respect for what Mr. Slater does to earn a living!

  • Owen - 4 years ago

    In the same way a producer owns the copyright to a feature film, he should own the rights to the image.

  • Rick - 4 years ago

    Case 1: Monkey authors a photo. Monkey can't legally claim his authorship. Public Domain.

    Case 2: Monkey authors a photo. Camera owner claims authorship. Plagiarism. As the monkey can't sue the plagiarist, still public domain.

  • Sumit Gupta - 4 years ago

    For those who think Mr. Carter own this photo just because he own the camera. Are you really serious? I mean I agree that Monkey is not sure what he was doing, or have any idea. But owning a camera doesn't make you "The Photographer", I mean some of my professional friend hire a camera or take my camera for vacation. If they take a photo there will I own the right of it then?

    I accept if photographer is "owner" because no logical owner is there, but if you give equal rights to monkey in law, then it is monkey's effort to click picture, not camera owner.

  • Pieter - 4 years ago

    Unless the Monkey bought the camera on eBay and let it ship to "Monkey Business Inc. , Jungle Street, Sulawesi, Indonesia", the photographer owns the picture indeed.
    The equipment is owned and prepared by the photographer, not by the monkey.
    It's the photographer who pressed the "upload" button to upload the image; I don't think the monkey went also online on the MacBook Pro of the photographer to upload the image ;-)

    I think the most important question is: "Who owns the equipment, edited the image and posted it online."

    But nevertheless, this article made my day, it's fun to read news like this :-D
    A big like!

  • Kim - 4 years ago

    Mr. Slater bought the camera, traveled to Indonesia, spent time, effort, energy, money, risk his life, name it all, of course he owns the photo and the copyright. Without him it wouldn't happen, there would no photos of these monkeys. Shame on you wikemedia! Get a life and take your own photos instead of stealing from people's work and now telling the guy he don't own it? You thieves!

  • KC - 4 years ago

    so the equipment owner automatically has copyright? that just means any camera owner is legally guilty if his camera is stolen and used to take illegal pictures.

    Joost: there's a difference between this case and those involving motion sensors. namely, intent to photograph. Slater didn't intend to take this photograph so he doesn't have automatic copyright. this is the very reason that vehicular manslaughter is not treated as first-degree murder

  • Joseph Friedman - 4 years ago

    Don't be stupid people. This man bought the camera, traveled to Indonesia and set everything that happened into motion and the film was in his camera. You vote that his work he invested his time and money into should be free. Yeah that sounds like a good idea until wikipedia is robbing you of your life's work.

  • Elizabeth - 4 years ago

    Be realistic here now, it was taken by Mr. Slater's Camera ownership belongs to him. If he had not posted then no one would be able to enjoy it. Wiki saw money opportunity and stole it without permission plain and simple. Any and all profits made should transfer over therefore copyrights as well. Again Mr. Slaters property not the monkies nor wikis and people need to stop being jaded.

  • Chris - 4 years ago

    It is interesting to note that all comments above agree and share their various degrees of contempt for Wikimedia for trying to pretend that the owner of the equipment and presumably the original producer of the photographs is anything other than the sole owner.

  • Graham Cook - 4 years ago

    You have just shown to the world how childish you all are by even contemplating that a Monkey could possibly legally own anything. This is a prime example of how the internet and the world is evolving into an illogical greed ridden cesspit. Wake to yourselves and give the man is due's. You only gain enemies by childishly attacking someone who only wishes to be recognized for is achievements, not get filthy rich from clicks and referrals.

  • jghoward - 4 years ago

    I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be a publicity stunt on the part of wikimedia, with the help of the Mr. Slater, which is designed to test people's understanding of copyright while being damned cute n viral and whatnot. Because this is clearly Mr. Slater's property and it would be outrageous for wikimedia to claim otherwise. If it is real, shame on wikimedia and we should all do everything we can to express our disapproval- because this isn't just messing with Mr. Slater, but all artists, and everyone actually.

  • Joost - 4 years ago

    There are many brilliant nature pictures where it was not the actual photographer who pressed the shutter but and animal that triggered it by a remote sensor. All camera traps photos for instance, including most likely all pictures of bats, and even an Wildlife photographer of the year award for a wolf jumping a fence (2009, image was later retracted but not because the copyright would have belonged to the wolf...) Clearly also in this case the copyright belongs to Mr Slater as he created all the conditions that allowed these pictures to be made and there is no human who has a prevailing claim. Shame on you Wikimedia!

  • Adam - 4 years ago

    I'm sure the camera is registered to the photographer. And I'm sure the photographer also processed his own images.

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