A rather attractive macaque became Internet famous a few years ago for the two images you see above — both of which he took himself, perhaps becoming the first monkey to take a selfie, in addition to creating a problematic question in the process: who owns the copyright?
British photographer David Slater claims he owns the copyright to the image — in 2011, he was in Indonesia photographing nature when a crested black macaque nabbed one of his cameras. The monkey took hundreds of pictures, and among them were the now-famous selfies above.
The monkey took the images himself; Slater did not take the images. For this reason, Wikimedia has the images’ copyright listed as public domain, because a “non-human animal” took them. The images are available in the Wikimedia Commons collections, and requests by Slater to have them removed have been denied.
As a result, Slater has not earned any income from the image — a sad reality considering how popular it has become. The photographer is set to take Wikimedia to court over the issue, and in doing so will address a big question: does a photographer own a copyright if an animal pushes the shutter button?