Monkeys Have No Rights To Their Selfies

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Sarah Fecht reports in Popular Science, about how their will be no more monkey business (at least in the creative fields of photography, video, art) due to a recent ruling by the U.S. Copyright Office.

In 2011, British wildlife photographer David Slater was traveling through the jungle in Indonesian when a crested black macaque grabbed his camera and started snapping selfies. Somebody posted the images in Wikipedia Commons, meaning anybody could use them for free. A legal battle ensued, with Slater claiming the images belong to him, and Wikipedia countering that the images belong to the public since they weren’t created by a human.

The U.S. Copyright Office addresses the dispute in the latest draft of its “Compendium Of U.S. Copyright Office Practices”, which was published on August 19. The previous compendium stated clearly that “Materials produced solely by nature, by plants, or by animals are not copyrightable.” The new 1,222-page report makes their stance on animal artwork abundantly more clear by referring specifically to photographs taken by monkeys. “The Office will refuse to register a claim if it determines that a human being did not create the work.”

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