Who Owns A Monkey's Selfie? No One Can, U.S. Says | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Who Owns A Monkey's Selfie? No One Can, U.S. Says

The question of who owns a striking image taken by a crested black macaque may be closer to being settled, as the U.S. Copyright Office says the photo can't be copyrighted — by the person who owns the camera or by any other entity — because it wasn't taken by a human.

The remarkably photogenic monkey won fans by capturing her own smiling image back in 2011, after a group of macaques in Indonesia appropriated British wildlife photographer David Slater's equipment. The resulting image went viral — and sparked an argument between Slater, who says he owns the photo, and others who say he doesn't.

The question got new attention earlier this month, when Slater talked about his efforts to get Wikimedia to take the image down from its "Commons" section, which collects open-source material. The Web service's editors refused, saying that neither the monkey nor the man owned the image.

And now Ars Technica brings us an update, after spotting what seems to be a reference to the monkey-versy in the U.S. Copyright Office's newly updated manual, the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices. (The manual's public draft version was released Tuesday; the final version will take effect in December.)

Chapter 300 of the compendium's 1,222 pages explains what the office calls "the Human Authorship Requirement," in which it notes that "copyright law only protects 'the fruits of intellectual labor' that 'are founded in the creative powers of the mind.' "

Here's the list of examples:

• A photograph taken by a monkey.
• A mural painted by an elephant.
• A claim based on the appearance of actual animal skin.
• A claim based on driftwood that has been shaped and smoothed by the ocean.
• A claim based on cut marks, defects, and other qualities found in natural stone
• An application for a song naming the Holy Spirit as the author of the work.

On that last entry, we'll note that the office states elsewhere that it's OK to claim divine inspiration for a work — you just can't claim the divinity did all the work.

As we reported earlier this month, Slater has said that a court may have to decide the issues of authorship and ownership that the case brings up.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Christmas Bells Are Ringing, And Cable Holiday Movies Are Unrelenting

Christmas cable movies are a genre unto themselves. We take a look at some of the Hallmark (and other) romances that are surprisingly big business this time of year.
NPR

Coca-Cola Wades Into Milk Business With 'Fairlife'

The milk is now for sale in a limited number of stores — including the Coborn's in Belle Plaine, Minn. Ari Shairo talks with Coborn's dairy manager, Steven Thueringer.
NPR

Judge Rules Fewer Political Groups Can Keep Their Donors Secret

The ruling targets the funders of campaign issue ads that encourage viewers to choose a specific candidate. The FEC now must decide whether it will appeal the ruling or require more disclosure.
NPR

In Darren Wilson's Testimony, Familiar Themes About Black Men

Wilson's descriptions of Michael Brown reminded some people of negative depictions of African-Americans in history. Recent studies suggest these perceptions have deeper psychological roots.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.