THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED 08/06/2014 10:55 AM PST. Wikimedia, the company behind Wikipedia, has refused the requests of a photographer to remove a photo from its Wikimedia Commons photo collection of royalty free images. The Telegraph is reporting that Wikimedia claims that the photographer who owned the camera on which the image was taken doesn't actually own the photo... the monkey who shot the selfie does.
The person responsible for uploading the image to Wikimedia, Tomasz Kozlowski, has made a statement on Reddit saying that the Telegraph misrepresented Wikimedia's opinion. His statment is as follows:
Hi Redditers—I'm Tomasz Kozlowski and I am the person who uploaded the controversial picture to Wikimedia Commons on January 8.
The problem with the Telegraph article is that it misrepresents the position of the Wikimedia Foundation (and mine).
When I uploaded the file, I wrote in my edit summary: "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."
The Wikimedia Foundation, I believe, has never claimed that the monkey in question holds copyright to the image. That's been confirmed in a tweet by Katherine Maher, the Wikimedia Foundation Chief Communication's Officer.
You can also see that there is no mention of this in the Foundation's transparency report that was published earlieryesterday today.
The Telegraph is reporting that the photographer has been fighting for some time now to get the image removed from the Wikimedia system as it is causing him to lose money.
The Gloucestershire-based photographer now claims that the decision is jeopardising his income as anyone can take the image and publish it for free, without having to pay him a royalty. He complained To Wikimedia that he owned the copyright of the image, but a recent transparency report from the group, which details all the removal requests it has received, reveals that editors decided that the monkey itself actually owned the copyright because it was the one that pressed the shutter button.
The photographer's point in this issue is that the trip and his equipment are extremely expensive (a statment I am particularly sympathetic towards) and that often one out of every 100,000 photos he takes makes money. This photo is one of those 100,000 that he would normally rely on, and because of Wikimedia he cannot.
For every 100000 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.
Even though it was his camera, it is true the monkey did snap the photo of itself, but do animals have the same copyright rights as humans? Is there really a case here?