In 2011, British photographer David Slater set up his tripod in the Indonesian forest and briefly stepped away. When he returned, some monkeys had seized the camera and started taking selfies.
So here is the question: who owns the copyright to the now-famous monkey selfie? Under normal circumstances, the person who took the picture owns the image, but in this case, a “person” didn’t take the image — a crested black macaque did. But can a crested black macaque even acquire copyright? And if a crested black macaque cannot acquire copyright, then who owns the image?
No one, it turns out.
According to the courts, the monkey — while arguably capable of creating art — is not, legally speaking, capable of creating art that can be copyrighted, because of standards for “originality.” How do we know, the argument goes, that the crested black macaque was making art, and not exhibiting some kind of natural behavior? In the eyes of the law, we don’t, and we can’t, and that’s why monkey-art can’t be copyrighted (sorry, macaques).
This is terrible news for aspiring macaques and even worse news (arguably) for Slater, who has produced a groundbreaking viral image and can’t currently receive any compensation for it.
This is excellent news for us, however, because have you seen this monkey selfie? It is hilarious and also adorable and would look fabulous in your home. May we suggest printing it on one of our premium aluminum panels and hanging it in the living room? Here is the picture we used. It’s a monkey selfie. You can’t go wrong.