There’s a reason they call it a selfie.
A British photographer is arguing that a series of self portraits, taken by a black macaque monkey, are his property. David Slater’s bizarre problem began during a 2011 trip to Indonesia, where he planned to get the perfect image of one of the animals. But somewhere along his little adventure, a macaque swiped his camera and took hundreds of selfies.
Most of them were blurry and some were even pointed at the jungle floor – but still! We can’t argue that this macaque has some serious composition skills (what with him smiling directly into the lens and all). But after Slater posted the images online, they were eventually added to Wikimedia Commons (which hosts a collection of images and videos that are free to use online). Not wanting his work to be used pro bono, Slater contacted them and asked to have it taken down.
And that’s when that monkey got right on his back.
Wikimedia refused to remove the photo on the grounds that since the macaque was the one to press the shutter and actually take the photograph, there is no human owner who can actually hold a copyright. Here’s what Wikimedia’s site actually says regarding permissions for the image: “This file is in the public domain, because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.”
Slater is now taking the case to court, saying that Wikimedia is harming his ability to make a living.
“That trip cost me about £2,000 [$3,600] for that monkey shot. Not to mention the £5,000 [$9,200] of equipment I carried, the insurance, the computer stuff I used to process the images. Photography is an expensive profession that’s being encroached upon. They’re taking our livelihoods away,” he told The Telegraph.
And to think: This is all the result of some monkeying around.