Humans take pictures of themselves all the time. Who owns the rights when an animal does it?

Can animals own copyright?

August 7, 2014 8:27 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Copyright issues seem to be responsible to for a lot of controversy these days, as the Internet has made it easy for users to upload, download and otherwise share works that may or may not be protected by a copyright they do not own the rights to. More often than not these works have been created by a human being. But what happens in instances that they are not? Can a work created by an animal be protected by copyright?

A recent case concerning this issue has been making the headlines recently. David Slater, a British photographer, claims to own the rights to a photograph that a monkey snapped of itself. Although Slater contributed to setting the scenario that allowed the photo to take place and helped make it happen, the Wikimedia Commons web site, which posted a copy of the photo, claims that Slater does not own the copyright.

According to an article in the Washington Post, Slater believes that he has incurred losses due to the posting of the photo, claiming that he owns the rights to it. 

"This is ruining my business," Slater told the source. "If it was a normal photograph and I had claimed I had taken it, I would potentially be a lot richer than I am."

Slater had previously requested that the image be removed, but it ended up being posted to the site again. It is part of the free photo library offered by Wikimedia, which is why the photographer wants it removed.

Since the photo was taken by an animal, it is claimed that the photographer does not own the rights to it, because he did not make a "significant" contribution to the image.

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