Who Owns the Copyright to Images Taken By a Monkey?

A very interesting case is developing that pits an online magazine against a wildlife photographer, David Slater, as to who owns the copyright to images taken by monkeys using Slaters camera.

It is pretty common knowledge that a photographer owns the copyright to an image they take once they click of the shutter. They are the creator of the works and under U.S. Copyright Laws that makes the holder of the copyright, unless of course there is something in writing stating otherwise, such as a work-for-hire agreement.

Photographer David Slater was in Indonesia photographing monkeys when he apparently left a camera out. It was picked up by a monkey who tripped the shutter. Slater states that the monkey was so intrigued by the sound that they kept clicking the shutter and the results, once Slater retrieved his camera, were some good shots.

Recently, online magazine Techdirt came across the story and published it on their site. Caters New Agency, contracted by Slater to license the images, saw the Techdirt story and sent a cease and desist order to remove the photos from their website. Techdirt then began to question who actually owns the copyright to images taken by a monkey and claim Fair Use and so far have refused to take down the images.

I would love to embed the photos to show you the great shots, but would rather not wade into this as I am sure we have not heard the end of the story.

Links:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110706/00200314983/monkey-business-can-monkey-license-its-copyrights-to-news-agency.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110712/01182015052/monkeys-dont-do-fair-use-news-agency-tells-techdirt-to-remove-photos.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110713/11244515079/can-we-subpoena-monkey-why-monkey-self-portraits-are-likely-public-domain.shtml

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