Photographer refused copyright because monkey took the picture

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Wednesday 06 August 2014 16:50

Wikimedia Commons has refused to take down a set of photographs over a copyright violation because it says the macaque featured in the pictures pressed the shutter and therefore the photographer does not own the rights.

David Slater, a freelance nature photographer, has repeatedly requested that Wikimedia take down the shots from its online collection of royalty-free images because it is jeopardising his income, according to the Telegraph.

Mr Slater had been on a lengthy trip to Indonesia in 2011 to capture photographs of the macaques when one took hold of his camera and started snapping away.

That trip cost me about £2,000 for that monkey shot. Not to mention the £5,000 of equipment I carried, the insurance, the computer stuff I used to process the images.

Photography is an expensive profession that’s being encroached upon. They’re taking our livelihoods away.

For every 100,000 images I take, one makes money that keeps me going. And that was one of those images. It was like a year of work, really.

  • David Slater

After grabbing the attention of the world's media, the photographs were bought and widely distributed until being uploaded to Wikimedia more recently. They can now be downloaded from their site without payment.

According to the Telegraph, Mr Slater now plans to take legal action against Wikimedia but having the copyright nuances straightened out in court could cost an estimated £10,000.