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  • our selfies, ourselves    August 6 
British photographer claims selfie-snapping monkey is ruining his livelihood

Monkey see, monkey sue.

Actually, British nature photographer David Slater is the one threatening legal action against Wikimedia Commons. Slater told The Telegraph that the online collection of free-to-use images and videos is refusing to delete a photograph of a crested black macaque, which was taken with his camera. The only problem is that Slater did not actually snap the photo — the monkey did:

(Wikimedia Commons)


Slater traveled to Indonesia on a photography trip in 2011, and while there, one of the animals grabbed his camera and took hundreds of photographs. Many were unusable, but quite a few more were delightfully unique selfies. Slater initially hyped the image, which was reported on by a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. But now the photographer says Wikimedia refuses to take the image off its website, despite not getting permission from Slater to use it.

"They've got no right to say that it's public domain. A monkey pressed the button, but I did all the setting up," Slater said. "For every 100,000 images I take, one makes money that keeps me going. And that was one of those images. It was like a year of work, really."

A year of work for Slater, a moment of selfie-snapping fun for a macaque that is (hopefully) happily zipping around Indonesia right now, utterly oblivious to the uproar it's caused.

**Update: An earlier version of this story stated that the Wikimedia Foundation claimed the monkey owned the copyright because it took the photograph. However, the Wikimedia Foundation report says it "received a takedown request from the photographer, claiming that he owned the copyright to the photographs. We didn't agree, so we denied the request." The Wikimedia Foundation says this is because the monkey did take the image, and therefore the photographer does not own copyright over it — but that the monkey does not own the copyright, either.

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