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Forum: General Photography 10-07-2015, 09:25 AM  
The latest internet victim-shaming is directed against a British photographer
Posted By FantasticMrFox
Replies: 36
Views: 3,381
The case is a bit more complicated than at first glance.

Obviously, the first obvious thing is that PETA is wrong in claiming copyright for the monkey. Under both US and UK law (and I assume the laws of pretty much any country) non-human animals cannot hold copyright. Easy as that. However, on the other hand Slater may not hold the copyright either.

A lot of the discussion comes down to determining which actions in creating a photograph determine copyright ownership. For example, let's assume that I want to create a landscape photograph in which I appear myself, but that cannot be accomplished with remote controls or a timer (because maybe I am too far away in the scene). I set the camera up on a tripod, select exposure and composition, position my filters, then tell someone else to simply press the shutter on my command, and subsequently post-process the whole thing. Now who owns the copyright, I or the random person who pressed the shutter?

Common sense would dictate that I hold the copyright, however most laws aren't that clear. UK law dictates that who 'creates' an artwork holds the copyright, and pressing the shutter is at least one step in the process of creating it. German copyright law actually allows for shared copyright ownership, where people who collaborate on the creation of an artwork share the copyright and ultimately proceeds from it.

The story of Slater is even less clear cut. He himself described the incident as the monkey sneakily grabbing his camera, then going off on a selfie spree. So by his own account Slater did not plan the incident and he did not set the camera up specifically for the monkey to use. The monkey did all the work. Thus I'd be hard pressed to recognise Slater's copyright claim, he simply didn't create any of the images. Consequently I would classify the images as public domain, with no party (neither Slater, nor the monkey or PETA) having a valid claim on their copyright.
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