The monkey selfie is back in the news today after Wikipedia released its first transparency report. A big issue in the report is just who owns the now iconic monkey selfie. According to Wikipedia, it should be in the public domain.
Wikipedia says the story of the selfie involves an unattended camera and a female crested black macaque monkey. The monkey took several photos, including the famous selfie. Even animals can’t help themselves when it comes to the selfie craze.
British nature photographer David Slater appealed to Wikipedia, citing copyright infringement when the photo appeared on the site. “We received a takedown request from the photographer, claiming that he owned the copyright to the photographs,” Wikimedia’s report said. “We didn’t agree, so we denied the request.”
That’s like saying you left your house on vacation for a few weeks, came home and somebody had taken over your house. Essentially Wikipedia’s argument is that because the house was left unattended, it’s in the public’s domain.
Slater says that Wikipedia is basing their decision on U.S. copyright law, but essentially they are guessing. Wikipedia thinks the image is free, and owned by everyone. I guess we all went for a journey with Slater as he shadowed the monkeys in Indonesia.
He joined their tribe, and eventually left the camera on a tripod for the monkeys to snap photos. Of course they said, let’s take a selfie. Who knew they had Instagram accounts. At least no filters were used.
Slater is claiming that he made thousands the first year the photo was out there, but once it hit Wikipedia, buying interest dried up.
So, what we have now is the burning question. Does the monkey own its selfie? The photographer that took the equipment out there and staged the setup? Or, everyone because it is a cool picture.
You can see both sides, as the image has now become iconic, but undoubtedly Slater should get the credit he deserves. None of us were out there in the jungle. If he doesn’t make money off this image, at least give credit where it is due. Plus, hire the man. Everyone knows that image.