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Does a Monkey own a copyright in a self-portrait or the camera owner? Copyright

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by Michael Wechsler, Aug 7, 2014.

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  1. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Law Topic Starter Administrator Staff Member

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    This is a remarkable case regarding a copyright of a monkey self-portrait on Wikipedia. Apparently Wikipedia's position is that the rights to the photo are in the public domain. The camera owner disagrees. This could be the source of a major dispute and litigation, which is no joking matter for a nature photographer who earns his living taking pictures of animals.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Well, if that don't beat all, I'm a monkey's uncle. LOL

    I'm a little suspect. Without the "monkey selfie", this becomes a simple nature story. Mix in a couple "monkey selfies", now we have the makings of a great coffee table book!!!

    Very interesting, all in all, professor. The one take away for me, that a monkey is not a person. If its not a person, it's legally incompetent. It has no rights, other than those benefits society chooses to confer, usually no maltreatment. The selfie becomes the property of the photographer without further question or comment. The photographer should have consulted you, professor. He might avoided commenting on who or what took the macaque's photo.

    All in all, what confusing times we continue to create. The founders laid it all out for us to follow. We simply read the greatest man inspired document, our constitution and the first fifteen amendments.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  3. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Law Topic Starter Administrator Staff Member

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    LOL, great opening!

    There is a great deal of suspicion regarding how the photos were snapped. I've read some comments about how you can see the head of the photographer in the eyes of the chimp - I couldn't be sure. I can't validate the story, just share with you one of the greatest stories ever told. :)

    It's interesting that the Wikimedia Foundation is taking such a strong stance that this picture is somehow in the public domain. I think it leads to an absurd conclusion. What if you have a $10,000 video camera set up pointing at the New York City skyline. Your cat jumps onto the camera, the record button is pressed accidentally, and the camera records a newsworthy event in the New York skyline. Is the law somehow to be interpreted as conferring legal rights to the cat? Is it even reasonable to believe that all rights to what happened on your own property and using your property should somehow become the property of the general public?

    There are many great jokes abound concerning the Planet of the Apes. I think we are a fair distance from the time when monkeys and apes will be able to apply for a social security number and be eligible for government grants. Seems more like an excuse for some people to keep up a cute photo they like very much... and concede is valuable!
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    One more thought just occurred to me. Replace the macaque with a three year old.
    The three year old is playing with your expensive 35 mm SLR.
    She snaps pictures of some momentous event, doesn't matter what it was, everyone is amazed at her effort.
    It's a long established principle of our laws that all income received by a child is the property of the parent(s).
    Flashback to the macaque, similar, huh?
     

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