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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Rights of Passage

Who Holds the Copyright on Photographs Taken by Monkeys?

By now you’ve probably all seen the above picture, a self-portrait taken by a macaque monkey after it stole the camera from award winning nature photographer David Slater. Now that the photograph has spread through the internet like wildfire, questions are being raised about who legally holds copyright over the photo–Slater, or the monkey?

If we’re going to be technical about it, most copyright belongs to whoever made the actual work in question. That is, if you ask a stranger on the street to take a photo of you and your family on vacation, the stranger technically  holds the copyright over any photos they snapped. This is almost never enforced, but now with a strange increase in works of photography or film taken by monkeys (a while back there was a movie filmed entirely by chimpanzees), the question is being asked.

If a work is produced not by humans, do the animals in question hold rightful claim over the copyright? Tech Dirt points out that, while the self-portrait in question shows no copyright notice, but there are two other photos (presumably also taken by the monkeys) which do bear copyright notice.

So how did they get there? Logically, the answer is that Slater submitted the photos to the agency, which would make sense in all but the most technical of ways. But what would the monkeys think of this?

(Tech Dirt via AfterElton.)


  • Maiasaura

    This is a fabulous picture.  Did the monkey actually know what it was doing, or was it just playing with the camera?

  • fannie

    What about teh monkeez?!?!?!


  • Anonymous

    I’ve known photographers, and frankly I don’t see why the monkey should be treated any different.

  • Noelle Ebert

    this is how the human/ape war begins…copyright infringement.

  • Andrea Pantoja

    ^ This sounds like a mildly better plot than that Planet of the Apes spin off horror slated to come out later this year. 

  • Maverynthia

    I wonder if the monkey would look at our copyright laws and think they were silly. It would probably be for public domain and sharing with the other monkeys in the group.

  • Anonymous Norge

    The monkey had acquired the camera illegally, so Slater holds the copyright. ;-)

  • Harry Patrick Sampson

    well if we’re going to get technical here with the idea of giving monkeys copyright rights, let’s get technical elsewhere: every monkey on earth is guilty of indecent exposure for failing to wear clothes, lewd conduct and corrupting the morals of minors for mating in front of others and some are guilty of assault for flinging feces at zoo-goers. LMAO