Monkey Self Portrait Sparks Copyright Battle


This great shot of a Macaque Nigra in Indonesia is — according to Wikipedia at least — in the public domain. That’s because although it came from a photoshoot by David Slater, the picture was actually taken by the monkey itself after getting its hands on the camera.  Wikipedia says that means the picture can’t be copyrighted as it’s not the work of a human.



7 Responses to Monkey Self Portrait Sparks Copyright Battle

  1. When the images first came out, Slater himself said that the images were taken by the monkey himself without intervention or planning by Slater:

    ‘One of them must have accidentally knocked the camera and set it off because the sound caused a bit of a frenzy, said Slater, 46.

    ‘At first there was a lot of grimacing with their teeth showing because it was probably the first time they had ever seen a reflection.

    ‘They were quite mischievous jumping all over my equipment, and it looked like they were already posing for the camera when one hit the button.

    ‘The sound got his attention and he kept pressing it

    ‘At first it scared the rest of them away but they soon came back – it was amazing to watch.

    ‘He must have taken hundreds of pictures by the time I got my camera back, but not very many were in focus. He obviously hadn’t worked that out yet.

    ‘I wish I could have stayed longer as he probably would have taken a full family album.’


    Slater has no claim to something he did not create.

  2. Does that mean that I can’t copyright any photo taken by a timer? In those cases the camera took the picture, not me. Of, for that matter, what about wildlife cameras that are designed to be tripped by sensors? Are those the property of the deer that tripped the shot?

    • Your logic is flawed. Setting a timer requires planning and you still triggered the camera. In this case, the photographer didn’t plan nor trigger the camera.

Leave a Reply