Who owns this photoMan or Monkey? Monkey selfie (Wikimedia Commons)
Who owns this photoMan or Monkey?

Assign to Google Classroom

When a monkey takes a selfie, who owns it?

A series of self-portraits taken by Indonesian monkeys has sparked a dispute. It's between Wikipedia and a British wildlife photographer. He wasn't amused that the popular images are being used for free.

This is called a copyright dispute. A copyright is the right to ownership. The creator (for instance, the photographer of a picture or the author of a book) can receive compensation for their effort.

Photographer David Slater complained that Wikipedia rejected his requests for the images to be removed from the website. He said he owns the copyright to the images of crested black macaque monkeys. The pictures were taken in the Indonesian jungle in 2011.

Slater told the BBC that although the monkeys pressed the button, he had set the self-portraits up. He framed them and set the camera on a tripod.

"It required a large input from myself," he said.

But Wikimedia Foundation, the group behind the free information-sharing site, argued that Slater didn't own the copyright to the photos because he didn't take the images.

It said no one owned the copyright to the images, because under U.S. law, "copyright cannot vest in non-human authors" the monkeys in this case. "When a work's copyright cannot vest in a human, it falls into the public domain. We believe that to be the case here."

Wikimedia's spokeswoman Katherine Maher said Slater requested the photos' removal in January. The images are currently free for use and downloading at Wikimedia Commons, the group's database of images and video clips.

Slater said copyright laws should be updated to address cases like his.

Critical thinking challenge: If Slater wins, who loses?

Filed Under:  
Assigned 88 times

  • 15Cyrus-May
    8/13/2014 - 02:42 p.m.

    this article is crazy how could a monkey take a selfie. A human had to do it there is no possible way that a monkey could take a selfie. Someone probably left equipment and set stuff up so when a monkey came he could take a picture.

  • 06Halin-May
    8/13/2014 - 02:42 p.m.

    that is so stinken cute. i had a monkey onces he took selfies all the time. his name is ralhy. he is fun he gets on the walls all the time.

  • 14EmmaL-May
    8/13/2014 - 02:44 p.m.

    This monkey is a genus! Hes able to take sefie and hes an animal. Genus monkey! I've never seen an artical like this before. The head line was really intresting though.

  • 10Kaleb-May
    8/13/2014 - 02:46 p.m.

    the monkey in this commical was funny. but i didn't get why it was a copyright photo.it was confusing for me.it was funny in the picture and i dont get how he could control the object.

  • 11Lillian-May
    8/13/2014 - 02:49 p.m.

    This article was very very funny that I laughed in my head! I loved the part were it said a monkey taking selfies because that was the part I laughed in my head!

  • 08Avery-May
    8/13/2014 - 03:20 p.m.

    OH MY GOSH!!!! I would never think that a monkey could ever do that. That is so halrious!!! I am still laughing at it. But the thing that i dont get is why they would relase this story this late? But otherwise graet story.

  • 03Alex-May
    8/13/2014 - 03:23 p.m.

    #Selfie for everybody I mean everymonkey. thats a monkey who can take a selfie better than me.I want that monkey as a pet he is awesome.

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    8/13/2014 - 07:55 p.m.

    I think that the monkey should own the photo because it was the monkey who took the picture not Wikipedia or the British Wildlife photographer. I also think that this is foolish for both Wikipedia and the British Wildlife photographer to fight against who should have the photo. I think that the U.S. law is wrong because the monkey was the one who took the picture.
    Critical thinking challenge: If Slater wins, who loses?
    Answer: If Slater wins, Wikipedia loses.

  • 18Beau-May
    8/14/2014 - 02:29 p.m.

    I cant beileive the monkey took a selfie. Its halarious.I love this article. the monkey is funny.why would you take this photo off the web.

  • 16Colin-May
    8/14/2014 - 02:35 p.m.

    Wow this monkey is truly amazing .I personally think that the website with more people that use it. So that more people will see it. Monkeys are really smart.

Leave a comment
Leave a comment