The Case of the Snapping Macaque

1 minute read

There’s a story doing the summer internet rounds that’s tickling so many brain receptors I need to vent it out. And it’s all about this girl:

hey girl
Source: Wikipedia. Copyright: erm. Pending?)

This is a macaque that took its own selfie. I am in love. And obviously, so are hordes of internet residents (because netizen is not a word, whatever the Oxford Dictionary might say) who keep posting, T-ing and RT-ing the simian supermodel.

But the photographer that owns the camera used for the snappage of said selfie considers himself in the position to hold copyright. Because it’s his camera, so his picture I guess, even if the macaque ran off with it and took hundreds of photos by herself without consulting the photographer over exposition, lighting, composition, makeup or catering preferences.

The photographer is also planning on suing Wikipedia for having the gall to repeatedly post the picture back online, because according to them the photographer doesn’t, in fact, hold copyright.

But who does?

Obviously not the macaque. Macaques don’t care about copyright, and rightly so — what would they do with it? Put it in a banana? Or fig, as it appears (yes I just googled it because #notallmonkeys). So the photographer? Oh, come on. It’s like saying I own the copyright to the Coliseum because I live in Italy and pay taxes and it’s a public monument so wait a minute this actually makes sense… er, anyway. He was simply there, and that’s not really enough to have a claim on all that happened outside of his sphere of influence.

So is it, in fact, an un-copyrightable image? Should the photographer get something though, just for the fact the he, you know, went there and spent money to be there? Should the macaque, for that matter? Should we be free to do whatever we want with the image?

In any case, I would love for this to go to court. There would be many a merry night of pontification and lawyering around this issue, and any copyright-related lawyering is always lots of nonsensical fun.