(Featured image from dailymail.co.uk)
We definitely thought we’ve seen it all until we realised that we’ve been horribly misinformed about the kind of strange findings one can stumble upon! So much so that it sounds a lot like a random hoax on the interwebs.
In 2011, UK-based wildlife photographer David Slater was in a national park in Indonesia when a couple of macaques snatched his camera and started taking pictures of themselves. One of them, a selfie by a female macaque, went viral. So much so that Wikimedia Commons picked up on it and published it on their site:
Not only was it published, as seen in the screenshot above, it was also made available for download in various resolutions and sizes. Royalty-free, by the way.
As such, a copyright battle ensued between David Slater and Wikimedia Foundation. David is threatening to sue the not-for-profit foundation for lost earnings of up to USD30,000 because according to him, he’s the true owner the photo and therefore it’s copyrighted to him. However, Wikimedia has promptly refused to take it down because the monkey (??) owns the copyright on the disputed photo.
And in a strange twist of events, the current US Copyright Office policy states that animals can’t own copyrights. According to Copyright Compendium § 202.02(b):
The term ‘authorship’ implies that, for a work to be copyrightable, it must owe its origin to a human being. Materials produced solely by nature, by plants, or by animals are not copyrightable.
Hence, Wikimedia spokesperson Katherine Maher told AFP, “Under US laws, the copyright cannot be own by a non-human. It doesn’t belong to the monkey, but it doesn’t belong to the photographer either.”
David argues that Wikimedia’s defence is based on a technicality and that there is “a lot more to copyright than who pushes the trigger on the camera”. “I own the photo but because the monkey pressed the trigger and took the photo, they’re claiming that the monkey owns the copyright,” he said.
Our take out from all of this? We knew that monkeys were intelligent, considering the fact that they’re our closest relatives. But this monkey selfie story, lawsuit and copyright issues aside, completely blew our minds.
Meanwhile, here are some of the best memes that were generated from when the monkey selfie originally went viral: