Wikimedia is set to face a legal action from a wildlife photographer after the site posted photos of a macaque selfie that was taken by the animal after running off with the camera.
The wildlife photographer David Slater discovered hundreds of selfies in his camera after recovering the camera. The camera was set up in 2011 to capture the back endangered crested macaque, during a trip to Sulawesi, Indonesia and a macaque ran off with the camera. Several selfies with shots of grinning macaques were later discovered. The pictures went viral and Wikimedia commons posted the photos on its site.
Slater claimed that Wikimedia’s move to post photos on a public domain had made him lose millions of dollars on royalties. Wikimedia Commons has a database of 22 million photos which can be accessed without any royalties. A transparency report from the company mentioned denied Slater’s removal requests as the monkey had shot the picture. The company has also not mentioned that the macaque owns the copyright.
“If the monkey took it, it owns the copyright, not me, that’s the basic argument. What they don’t realize is that it needs a court to decide that,” said Slater.
Slater claimed that he had set up the tripod, camera and settings for owning the photo copyright and the monkey was his assistant for pressing the button. Despite the photo being extremely popular Slater has claimed that he hasn’t earned much money and will spend £10,000 legal bill to take the battle to court.
However, The New Yorker stated that Wikipedia has defended itself in the Monkey Selfie row. It mentioned:
If Slater, as the photographer, had said that he wanted the photos taken down, Wikimedia most likely would have complied. The question that arose was whether Slater, who had not held the camera, set up the shot, or pressed the shutter, could be considered the photographer at all. Wikimedia’s position on this was clear: in the licensing conditions found at the bottom of the grinning monkey selfie, they write, “This file is in the public domain because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.” (It should be noted that Wikimedia is not saying that the monkey owns the copyright, as others have reported, but simply that Slater does not.)
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