If a Monkey Takes a Photo, Who Owns the Rights?
I’m sure you’ve all read the story about David Slater and how he left his camera unattended, only to have a monkey snap self-portraits with it. When this story came out many jokingly questioned the monkey’s copyrights to the photos. A question that has become a legitimate concern after Caters News Agency claimed, in an email, to have been given said rights and demanded that Techdirt remove the photos from their site.
Below you can read the email correspondence between the two parties involved and see the photos in question. Unless we also receive a take down notice for the images. In which case you will scroll down and just see a blank space 357×768 in size. :)
Caters News Agency original email: “Hello, I have noticed you have used David Slater’s images on your website. However we are representing David Slater and syndicating these images on his behalf. These images are being used without David’s or our permission, therefore can I ask you remove these images from your site immediately. Please email me to inform me when this done. Thanks”
When Techdirt’s emailed them back questioning the validity of a monkey’s ability to own copyrights the news agency’s further responded with: “Michael, regardless of the issue of who does and doesn’t own the copyright – it is 100% clear that the copyright owner is not yourself. You have blatantly ‘lifted’ these photographs from somewhere – I presume the Daily Mail online. On the presumption that you do not like to encourage copyright theft (regardless of who owns it) then please remove the photographs.”
Mike Masnick of TechDirt, the author of the posts, wrote back: “If I’m reading this correctly — and I believe that I am — Caters News Agency is claiming that anyone, copyright holder or not, can issue a takedown on a photo, if they can claim that the person using the image is not the copyright holder either — regardless of whether “fair use” applies. That’s… an interesting interpretation of the law. It’s also not a valid interpretation of the law. In fact, in some places, sending a takedown notice, if you are not the copyright holder, is what’s actually against the law. It’s absolutely true that we are not the copyright holder, but as I made clear in my email, that does not matter, as we believe that our use qualifies as fair use. The whole point of fair use is, in fact, to allow those who are not the holders of the copyright to make use of the work in some cases, so it seems odd that Caters would imply no such thing exists.”
The original photo:
The images in question:
Many sites, such as PetaPixel, have posted follow up stories in light of Caters News Agency’s demands and eagerly await the outcome of this drama. The net is buzzing with opinions, so be sure to leave your opinions and comments below.
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