Thursday, August 7, 2014

When copyright becomes monkey business!

An Indonesian black macaque has started a copyright controversy. 3 years ago a British photographer David Slater was in Sulawesi in Indonesia photographing endangered primates when one took his camera and made a number of photos. The best one is a wonderful selfie! 

Wikipedia somehow got hold of a copy and put it in its free database. Now Slater plans to sue for copyright infringement claiming he owns the copyright and is losing royalties. Wikipedia says the monkey took the photo so "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," said Wikipedia.

I wonder if anyone has checked the Indonesian copyright law; after all that is the applicable law if the monkey took it! Hmmm now is he an Indonesian national under the Berne Convention...?



  1. Even if copyright exists, IP Komodo can rely on the fair comment defense under the Indonesian Copyright Law in reproducing the photo. Source of photo - WIKIPEDIA. This is assuming Mr Macaque wishes to assert copyright against IP Komodo, a fellow Indonesian wild life.

  2. Fantastic story! And a gorgeous selfie.
    I heard about it on the radio on a late night show...and it does raise interesting questions! Separately, someone recently told me about some treaty where they are looking into non-human rights eg for dolphins; see