Who owns the selfie?

1) Some monkey took a 'selfie' with a professional photographer's equipment.

2) Wikipedia used the image.

3) The photographer claimed copyright & brought a £10,000 suit.

Where do you stand on this? Who has the rights to the image?

     Posted By: Expat47 - Thu Aug 07, 2014
     Category: Animals | Photography and Photographers | Lawsuits

Here's my take:

#1: If you write something in my year book at high school it's mine.

#2: If you borrow my pen to write something in your year book it's yours.

So... the memory card in the camera becomes the 'paper' on which the writing was done. The camera is the pen. Hence, just because you borrowed my pen to write something in my year book that doesn't make it yours.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 08/07/14 at 12:46 PM
Well, the yearbook may be yours, but you cannot say that the words in it are yours if you didn't think about them yourself. Just as you cannot say that you invented some citation by Abraham Lincoln just because you wrote it in your essay. In this case, the camera and memory card may be the photographer's, but the selfie is the monkey's which means that any royalty shall be paid to the black, hairy tree dweller. Unfortunately, no animal has the right to sign a contract which means that nobody, human or not, will be paid for this photograph. Hence, public domain.
Posted by Yudith on 08/07/14 at 12:55 PM
How did Wikipedia get the image to begin with? My guess is the photographer shared it online. This seems the basic logical (and legal) hypocrisy of the information age..."Hey everyone, look at my stuff (but don't dare show it to anyone else)"
Posted by Daldude on 08/07/14 at 04:05 PM
I agree to some extent with Expat, since the photo was captured with the photographer's camera. I read this earlier in the day and the argument that Wikipedia was trying to use was that since the photographer didn't have the camera in his possession when the photo was taken usual rights and attributions of origin didn't apply.

I thought that the argument was really weak because Wikipedia was implying that animals can enter into contracts of copyright, very much as Yudith pointed out. However I don't think this a public domain photo and attribution and control belongs to the photographer.
Posted by KDP on 08/07/14 at 05:59 PM
What about wildlife photographers who use motion triggered camera gear?
Sorry Marty, The grizzly Bear took his own picture. Your copyright is void! 😖 :coolsmile:
Posted by Tyrusguy on 08/07/14 at 07:59 PM
I like to keep as much stuff public domain as possible. But, since the camera was the photographer's property and since he went to the effort and expense to be there and to recover the camera and discover the pictures, I think he has a reasonable claim to the pictures. He distributed the pictures as monkey selfies, which in itself is creative and strengthens his claim. Wikipedia isn't a profit-making body, so I hate to see them being sued. One might think that he could parlay the controversy into more sales of his pictures, so the situation could be a win-win for him and the public.
Posted by Harvey on 08/07/14 at 10:02 PM
The crux of the law suit should be how and where Wiki got the picture? Was it copywrite protected at the time? Is WeirdUniverse also going to be sued?
Posted by BMN on 08/07/14 at 11:09 PM
Did Wikipedia give credit to the photographer?
I would say that an "animal selfie" takes time and effort from a human to happen.

It was the photographer's idea, his camera, his time and effort.
At the very least he should get credit for that.

Is he selling the selfies?Was access to them highly restricted? Was that his plan and did his actions support that?

Can I now print a copy of his photo for free because I saw it on the Wikipedia page?

Well that is now a PROBLEM.
Posted by girlgeniusNYC on 08/08/14 at 12:25 PM
The 'owner' of the selfie would be the copyright holder.

"Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet." - Mark Twain
Posted by tadchem on 08/08/14 at 01:30 PM
WU has now been added in the lawsuit for using/distributing the image :shut:
Posted by BrokeDad in Midwest US on 08/08/14 at 04:05 PM
This is simple. The rights belong to the MONKEY! He took the picture. So, rights go to the monkey, or his agent, Eric Holder.
Posted by atrax on 08/08/14 at 06:21 PM
'So, rights go to the monkey, or his agent, Eric Holder.' :lol: :lol:
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 08/08/14 at 07:20 PM
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