Monkey selfie can’t be copyrighted

August 23, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

New York: The US Copyright Office has confirmed that a monkey — or any other animal — that takes a selfie does not own the copyright of the photo.

A selfie taken by a black macaque on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi three years back has become a tug of war between Wikipedia and the photographer who claims he is the owner of the selfie.

Wikipedia has refused to remove the famous selfie, saying the monkey — and not the photographer — owns the copyright because the animal took it.

In an update to copyright regulations and practices published this week, the US regulator spelled out examples of works that are not eligible for protection.

These include “a photograph taken by a monkey” and “a mural painted by an elephant”, says a report in National Journal.

The monkey example relates to a legal tussle between British wildlife photographer David J Slater and Wikimedia, the nonprofit foundation behind Wikipedia, over a selfie taken by a monkey in Indonesia in 2011. 

The female macque snatched Slater’s camera and snapped a few cute pictures of herself, one of which became quite famous and made Slater some money. 

Slater requested that Wikimedia remove the photo from Wikimedia Commons, a repository of images that are free for the public to use, insisting that he owns the rights to the monkey selfie.

Wikimedia refused, saying that the copyright should belong to the person taking the photo, and in this case a person didn’t take the photo.