Monkeys, Ghosts Can't Hold Copyright: Regulator
Macaque's selfie can't be registered, US office says
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2014 4:40 AM CDT
This photo taken by an Indonesian monkey was at the center of the dispute.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – The biggest overhaul of American copyright regulations in decades includes some bad news for a photographer whose camera was snatched by a monkey: Only works created by humans can be copyrighted. The US Copyright Office says photos taken by monkeys count as "unprotected intellectual property," Ars Technica finds. The office says it will not "register works produced by nature, animals, or plants. Likewise, the Office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings."

Nature photographer David Slater had sought to have a selfie snapped by the crested black macaque taken down from Wikimedia Commons, arguing that he had the rights to it. "A mural painted by an elephant" is another example regulators give of copyright-free intellectual property under the new rules, the Telegraph reports, but while the office won't allow any supernatural beings to hold copyright, works can be registered for copyright if they were "inspired by a divine spirit."

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Showing 3 of 29 comments
Aug 23, 2014 5:24 PM CDT
How did they get a pic of my ex-wife?
Aug 22, 2014 2:16 PM CDT
Horseshit it was his camera. So who has the rights to photos that were taken with no one at the camera and it was set off by a timer?
Ezekiel 25:17
Aug 22, 2014 12:43 PM CDT
Our courts ruled against a utility company photographer when he snapped photos of the Murrah bombing. ONG sued him for rights because the camera was their equipment, the film was their stock, he was on duty and had not scheduled a day off or leave at the time he snapped the photos. In the end, he was fired and all the money he got from the Pulitzer was used on the cases filed against him. Remember that when photography is your job with a big company. All he really needed to do was submit the photos to his superiors and then they could distribute them and he would still be eligible for the Pulitzer and keep the monies.