back to article Hey, remember that monkey selfie copyright drama a few years ago? Get this – It's just hit the US appeals courts

Remember that selfie of the grinning monkey way back in 2014? It was taken by an Indonesian crested macaque named Naruto using the camera of wildlife photographer David Slater. And it is at the heart of a long-running copyright case that's now ended up before the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court in San Francisco. Why? Because it's …

  1. fobobob

    Just sayin'

    Corporations can hold copyright, and they're not people, per se.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Just sayin'

      Sadly, you are wrong.

      1. Infernoz Bronze badge
        Flame

        Re: Just sayin'

        It was a historical corrupt abuse of the fixed-lifespan, state-created-entity, called a Corporation, to ever allow it to be abused as a zombie business entity!

        It was a monstrous legal abomination and corruption of US emancipation statute 'law', to ever class the fictional zombie business entity, called a corporation, as a person.

        A real person is only ever a living human being; I don't give a frack what the legal liars say in the demonic Blacks Dictionary etc.!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just sayin'

          @Infernoz

          I heartily agree. Animals, perhaps, especially monkeys have far more in common with people than the artificial construct that is a corporation. A corporation is nothing more than a mechanism by which a business is run/structured. For now, this requires that people are involved with the business. AI may change that, at some point, in the distant further. Who'll get the profits or responsible for the costs when AI starts setting up and running its own businesses?

          Back to the point at hand, I don't know if animals should be able to hold copyright; in fact, I'm leaning toward not, but I think the argument that if corporations can be considered people then why not anything else? Especially, if that thing, an animal is more person like than the artificial construct that is a corporation.

          from the article, "But back to the issue of whether animals can hold a copyright. PETA points out that corporations are not people, yet they can hold copyright. To which the opposing lawyers pointed out that it was specifically decided by the Supreme Court. So far, there has been no Supreme Court decision that animals are people."

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: Just sayin'

            " Animals, perhaps, especially monkeys have far more in common with people than the artificial construct that is a corporation"

            Depends on which context. Corporations are made of people. Hence for legal issues about subjects invented by people (like copyright) corporations are much closer to people.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Just sayin'

          The legal fiction of a corporation being a human would work just fine if they had to pick a C-level executive to serve the prison time. The big companies all know that they can be as malicious as they want if the net profit will exceed the amount of any probable fine.

          1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

            Re: Just sayin'

            @MachDiamond - Nope. If only one C-level executive is at risk, you've only created the position of CES: Chief Executive Scapegoat, though I guess in most cases they would use a different name.

      2. Number6

        Re: Just sayin'

        It doesn't allow them to count as passengers in carpool lanes though.

    2. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Just sayin'

      Companies are a legal entity constructed by people. I've yet to see a monkey create a startup.

      1. Lingomat

        Re: Just sayin'

        I take it you've not been involved in many tech startups.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just sayin'

          "Companies are a legal entity constructed by people. I've yet to see a monkey create a startup."

          I take it you've not been involved in many tech startups.

          Beautiful. I have found my comment/retort of the week. It can't get better than that.

          :)

        2. Martin Summers Silver badge

          Re: Just sayin'

          I'm always the set up never the punchline! ;-) enjoy the 100+ up votes.

      2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: Just sayin'

        I've yet to see a monkey create a startup.

        True,...but I've seen quite a few brought into senior management roles within well-established corporations.

      3. Graybyrd
        Windows

        Re: Just sayin'

        I've yet to see a monkey create a startup.

        Yet we've all seen a monkey as a corporate executive. One even threw a chair against the wall to intimidate an employee.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Just sayin'

      But I thought no person could avoid death and taxes?

      1. Only me!
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Just sayin'

        What does Paris think of who owns the pictures?

    4. Steven Jones

      Re: Just sayin'

      Corporations are "legal persons". That means that they can own assets (and sue/be sued or prosecuted). It's a fundamental concept in law. If they weren't "legal persons", you wouldn't be able to have a legally enforceable contract with one.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Just sayin'

        If a river can be a legal person, then a monkey could too. It just shouldn't, is all. Although I'm sure that if you started throwing sueballs at it, it will respond by flinging something similar sounding back.

      2. Paul

        Re: Just sayin'

        "Corporations are "legal persons".... If they weren't "legal persons", you wouldn't be able to have a legally enforceable contract with one."

        utter nonsense. the law/government define what an incorporated entity is, and the legal process by which one is formed, and thus can define how a corporation can make contracts and the liabilities ensuing.

    5. David Nash Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Just sayin'

      "Corporations can hold copyright, and they're not people, per se."

      This point is addressed in the article. Why would you raise it as if it's your idea?

    6. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Just sayin'

      Unfortunately the SCUSA some time ago confirmed corporate personhood. In other words, in the US corporations are legally people. No matter how absurd that is.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Just sayin'

        the SCUSA"

        See icon

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Just sayin'

        "the SCUSA"

        Scusa?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just sayin'

        Unfortunately the SCUSA some time ago confirmed corporate personhood. In other words, in the US corporations are legally people. No matter how absurd that is.

        Usually abbreviated SCOTUS.

        Supreme Court Of The United States.

        Not to be confused with the Supreme Court Registrar.

  2. Oh Homer
    Facepalm

    Devil's Advocate

    I think the purpose of this case is (or at least should be) to demonstrate how ridiculous the entire premise of copyright really is.

    It's bad enough that those who claim "exclusive rights" to that which is clearly not exclusively of their making (i.e. is derivative to any degree, which would be all so-called "creative works" throughout history) have been granted this artificial privilege of a state-protected monopoly on their not-really-exclusive "creations", but for them to then claim the "exclusive rights" to something created by a monkey, just because the monkey used their camera, is beyond ridiculous.

    Yes, and a weevil once scuttled out of a bag of flour in my kitchen, making a nice pattern in its wake. I therefore claim the "exclusive rights" to that pattern, because ... my kitchen.

    Jesus wept!

    1. Marshalltown

      Re: Devil's Advocate

      It also reveals how ethically challenged PETA is.

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: Devil's Advocate

        Oh, the Patently Evil Tedious Arsenugets have shown how ethically challenged they are long, long, LONG ago, not least with how they treat 'rescued' dogs at their facilities. (Hint: the vast majority of those 'rescued' animals never walk out of said facilities.)

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Devil's Advocate

          Best expansion of the acronym EVAR.

          1. Scott 53
            Headmaster

            Re: Devil's Advocate

            "Best expansion of the acronym EVAR."

            It would have been slightly better with a double g.

      2. Not also known as SC

        Re: Devil's Advocate

        If I ever had any respect for PETA it has totally evaporated now. Not even the South Park episode featuring PETA made them look such douches (and that made out that PETA members have sex with animals - http://southpark.wikia.com/wiki/People_for_the_Ethical_Treatment_of_Animals).

      3. h4rm0ny
        Mushroom

        Re: Devil's Advocate

        The Wikipedia page on this subject is one of the most obnoxiously smug and faux-neutral things I have ever read. PETA's contention that a monkey owns the copyright is deeply flawed. It would be flawed even were the monkey a human. They present this as an act of will on the monkey's part whilst others present it as simple happenstance rather than intent on the photographer's part. Neither is true.

        David Slater travelled around the world specifically for the purpose of nature photography by which he earns his living, spent days being accepted by the monkeys so that they would tolerate his presence. He purchased the equipment, set up the equipment, waited patiently for the right circumstances travelling with the monkeys and deliberately set the camera up so that the monkeys could trigger it. Is copyright not possible on all those nature documentaries where an animal triggers the camera themself? What about where a camera is positioned over a nest or fastened to a bird? Can copyright not exist if the photographer is not physically operating the camera at the time. David Slater went to a LOT of effort to set things up so this would happen. PETA are fanatics who insist animals must be treated as people even to the absurd extent that they must be regarded as taking deliberate, informed actions when obviously they do not - such as the monkey triggering the camera.

        Also, as any photographer will tell you, taking a picture is hardly the beginning and end of the work. David Slater went through all the photographs to select appropriate ones (how many of a monkey's feet and leaves do you think were also taken?), cropped and positioned the photograph, did post-work on the photograph (which is an artistic and technical skill in itself), publicised the photograph. I can guarantee that if it were just some raw original with no work by himself, it would not look remotely as good. Copyright covers any creative input to a work, not just clicking a camera button.

        But other than that, no, let's assign copyright to a monkey that pressed a button. And that tapir that wandered through a photography trap at night so we could get some wildlife photography of them in their natural habitat? Better track it down and give it a copyright entitlement as well.

        The work of nature photographers such as David Slater is a huge help to conservation efforts and animal welfare in that it shares with people around the world the beauty and wonder of nature. But it relies on copyright in order to exist. Nobody just gives him money to do this - he earns his living through it. We should be happy that there exist ways of making your living that actually enrich society rather than just everybody being a lawyer for example. Not punishing it and trying to harm nature photography. David Slater actually travelled around the world to photograph these monkeys to help raise awareness that they were in danger. PETA, by trying to take away his livelihood, directly harms his efforts to save the very monkeys they claim to care about.

        Fuck Peta, quite frankly. Authorship depends on the creating input and the provided resource to create the work. The photographer provided both, the monkey neither. Signed (in a hopeless attempt to counterbalance the reputation damage PETA's stunt is causing) -- a vegetarian and supporter of animal welfare.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Devil's Advocate

          "Authorship depends on the creating input and the provided resource to create the work."

          An additional point I've not seen raised yet is even if the monkey had worked out that pressing the button made a click noise, how did manage to understand that it was taking a photo? Is it even capable of understanding what a photo is without being taught, never mind the connection between the funny clicky thing and the image produced.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Devil's Advocate

          Sadly your well-argued point is wasted against a not-for-profit-just-for-virtue-signalling organisation. Imagine how delighted their donors must be to be funding a legal case about the copyright of a monkey's photo. You almost couldn't make it up.

      4. sisk Silver badge

        Re: Devil's Advocate

        It also reveals how ethically challenged PETA is.

        In order for that to be the case their ethical problems would have to have been hidden in the first place. Or do you seriously think that any rational person could mistake a group that thinks it's OK to throw red paint on someone for wearing fake fur even while euthanizing more animals annually than any other group in the world for an ethically sound group?

    2. Stanislaw
      Flame

      Re: Devil's Advocate

      I don't believe this is anything to do with copyright per se. It's PETA's attempt to begin to establish a legal basis for the extension of human rights & freedoms to animals. If you can successfully argue that a monkey can own copyright, you're part way to showing it's a person. You've got the thin end of the wedge in place and can then start hammering away at it, extending the concept to areas such as rights to life, freedom etc.

      I find this deeply disturbing. Human rights - which not even all humans currently enjoy, let's not forget - are far too precious and hard-won. They exist precisely to differentiate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. If you grant animals the same rights as humans, you don't raise the animals up - you devalue the lives of humans. This is very dangerous territory.

      Protect animals, by all means. Legislate against cruelty. But leave it at that, for all our sakes.

      1. Meph
        Coat

        Re: Devil's Advocate

        "It's PETA's attempt to begin to establish a legal basis for the extension of human rights & freedoms to animals"

        I'm honestly not so sure. AFAIK (Oblig: IANAL) copyright appears to be about controlling a work so that the creator can profit from it. Part of the reason that content distributors and associations typically litigate on behalf of content creators is because they receive a chunk of the profits on said works for themselves.

        One wonders if the Painfully Exasperating & Troublemaking Asses are running out of income in a world where armchair activism merely requires "likes" rather than actual cash. That would make this a common, garden variety cash grab. Occam's razor and all that.

        Mine's the leather one, waste not want not.

      2. Infernoz Bronze badge
        Devil

        Re: Devil's Advocate

        PETA are simply insane, human-hating, SJW Marxists, no more needs to be said...

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Devil's Advocate

          PETA are simply insane, human-hating, SJW Marxists, no more needs to be said...

          You forgot to say they're also pinko Nazi Commie librul traitors, and any other term you personally don't like.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Devil's Advocate

            >>You forgot to say they're also pinko Nazi Commie librul traitors, and any other term you personally don't like.

            Ordinarily I'd agree with you challenging someone characterising a group they don't like as "SJW marxists". But honestly this is PETA here and that pretty well describes the majorty of them.

            1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: Devil's Advocate

              Please explain to me what is Marxist about PETA? You can use any of his writings in addition to Das Kapital, but you must make a coherent argument and not simply name-call.

              (No, I don't like PETA. But I am tired of people using "Marxist" to mean "something indefinite I personally dislike.")

              1. h4rm0ny

                Re: Devil's Advocate

                >>Please explain to me what is Marxist about PETA?

                Their membership on the whole. They have a very heavy overlap with the extreme Left, core support in Antifa (who again need not be communist but largely are).

                >>But I am tired of people using "Marxist" to mean "something indefinite I personally dislike

                I'm not and largely don't. However, the GP called them that and I'm just observing that in my experience they actually largely are. It's nothing inherent to PETA's mandate that is Marxist. And certainly nothing to do with Animal Rights as I am a supporter of Animal Rights and am pretty Right Wing. But PETA membership heavily slants that way, ime.

        2. sisk Silver badge

          Re: Devil's Advocate

          PETA are simply insane, human-hating, SJW Marxists

          I disagree. Even the reality challenged group that is SJWs look good next to PETA. The typical SJW actually believes that their views are valid and need to be heard, including the shouting down of dissenting voices (which, more often than not, are the voices of reason when SJWs are involved). PETA, on the other hand, are as a group so hypocritical that I have difficulty believing that anyone who remains associated with them for more than a few months could actually believe their rhetoric.

          Not to mention such insanities as arguing that Mario's Tanooki suit somehow harms animals. Even the most mentally challenged and hardcore animal rights activist would have trouble actually believing that one.

      3. ManFromOz

        Re: Devil's Advocate

        @Stanislaw

        I have no time for PETA. But I profoundly disagree with your argument. It is the notion of black and white differentiation between humans and 'animals' that promulgates, rather than reduces, human inequality. If your notion of what does and doesn't deserve such rights is based on an arbitrary benchmark (human vs non-human), you create a construct that allows people to set that arbitrary line wherever they like. Throughout history, groups of people have been demonised and categorised as 'sub-human', and this distinction used as a way of eroding their rights.

        A distinction based on objective measures (things like the ability to experience pain, emotional distress, joy, familial relationships) actually makes it much harder to withdraw those rights from any human being, but also leads to the inescapable conclusion that higher order animals also deserve the same or similar protections.

        It can be a rather challenging notion, as if forces an examination of what is, for most of us, an uncomfortable truth we avoid.

        If you really want to be challenged on this, read Peter Singer. You will find your world view challenged, which I hope you will find stimulating. (Unfortunately most people find such challenge is unwelcome and summarily dismiss it).

        https://www.amazon.com/Writings-Ethical-Life-Peter-Singer/dp/0060007443

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Devil's Advocate

          Human law does not apply to monkeys any more than Arabian law applies to an Australian in Australia..

          The government takes pictures of any number of cars crossing the Dartford crossing every day and uses them for gain.

          Surely these pictures are copyright of the cars owners?

          1. BongoJoe

            Re: Devil's Advocate

            Only if the cars trigger the camera. If, however, the cameras took a picture every second then the copyright would belong to the Dartford Tunnel people.

            It could be interesting if this went further (and applied to the Right Side of the Pond) because this may mean that the pictures couldn't be sent between departments or different authorities.

            Until the day, that is, that there's a small disclaimer written on a notice board saying something like "Use of this motorway is considered acceptance of our terms and conditions regarding copyright of your likeness."

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Devil's Advocate

              Well the police (OK, Maurice Gatsonides) devised a method for a vehicle to trigger the shutter of a camera, taking two closely spaced photographs of the vehicle... does that mean that they own the copyright to every photo of a speeding car? Or could a car driver say that THEY own the copyright of the photo, and thus control how that photograph is used?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Devil's Advocate

                Or could a car driver say that THEY own the copyright of the photo, and thus control how that photograph is used?

                Something is not right with that idea, or it could become a nice little earner for everyone who has ever had a ticket for speeding or jumping a red light: you could then sue the police for breach of copyright as you never gave permission for the image to be used as evidence..

                1. TRT Silver badge

                  Re: Devil's Advocate

                  Well, the police would have to subpoena the image before presenting it as evidence, as use in a criminal proceeding is NOT an assignable use under copyright law. The copying and distribution of the image in evidence bundles would be an assignable use, however. There are caveats, I believe, which allow evidentiary use of things to override other considerations, or you would have companies claiming that their tax ledgers are copyright.

          2. Neil Lewis

            Re: Devil's Advocate

            Under UK copyright law (which, like most of the world, is based on and closely follows the Berne convention, unlike US copyright law) it'd be hard to assign copyright to anyone, including the government or the Dartford Crossing authority for those pictures. Why? Because there are two keys to owning copyright.

            First, you have to demonstrate that you are the author, i.e. that you caused the photograph to be created. It isn't enough to simply be the owner of the camera, and it certainly isn;t enough to be the subject of the photograph. The author must make a conscious decision to cause the specific photograph to be created.

            Second, that there was a clear 'creative step' involved. The owners of the Dartford Crossing cameras might possibly claim some elements of a creative step, since they chose where to place the cameras, but that's about it. The driver of the car has no such control over placement of the camera and does not make a decision to activate it, either.

            This is a bit different to travelling around the globe specifically to set up a series of photographs, choosing where and when to set up a camera on a particular occasion when the subject was available and seemed in the right mood, choosing a lens and setting the camera's operational parameters to suit the specifics of the environment at that particular time. All those are 'creative steps' in the way UK copyright recognises them, because they were deliberate, specific to and had a substantial effect upon the overall intention of crating individual photographs. The ape may have observed the photographer handling the camera, and tried to copy thos actions, but it would be seriously stretching credibility to suggest he had any idea that pressing the shutter release button would cause a photograph of himself to or anything else to be created, hence it's not credible to suggest any creative step on his part.

            1. The First Dave

              Re: Devil's Advocate

              @Neil

              "The driver of the car ... does not make a decision to activate it"

              The whole point of them is that the driver _does_ make a decision that causes it to activate.

              1. myhandler

                Re: Devil's Advocate

                No they don't - many will be unaware they made any decision to trigger a picture.

                So no decision was made.

                1. The First Dave

                  Re: Devil's Advocate

                  @myhandler

                  Being unaware is no defence in law.

              2. HelpfulJohn

                Re: Devil's Advocate

                "The whole point of them is that the driver _does_ make a decision that causes it to activate."

                You are suggesting that the driver, simply by way of deciding to enter the vehicle, is initiating the creative act. That deciding to drive anywhere is a creative act.

                By that logic, driving with the intent of necking some liquid refreshment is intent and malice aforethought and a deliberate act in furtherance of a felony if you hit anyone. That ups it to attempted homicide.

                Best not to go there, yes?

            2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: Devil's Advocate

              > It isn't enough to simply be the owner of the camera,

              The article asserts:

              "According to US copyright law, the person who took the picture is the copyright owner –"

              That is not true either. There are many situations where neither the owner of the camera, nor the person who took the picture, would own the copyright. For example one may hire a camera and employ a cameraman and still wind up owning the copyright, as is often done when making movies.

              Usually, the employee will have a specific clause in the contract, but even without this it is 'work for hire' and the employer will own the copyright. As a general rule it is the owner of the film, or original storage media, that will own the copyright. This is true even in cases where an unpaid agent is used, such as in this case.

            3. HelpfulJohn

              Re: Devil's Advocate

              A random thought: what if the camera had been a Kodak Polaroid thingy that belched images out of it's bum? True, the first photo taken by the monkey may have just intrigued it but, after seeing and possibly recognising itself in the developed square, the monkey might -MIGHT - have deliberately tried to make others.

              Had that happened, or if PETA sets up a camera so it happens, are those "deliberate creations of the copyright holder" and is that holder the animal?

              I think PETA are, like many "charities", not thinking well or deeply enough to profit fully from these ideas.

              Possibly due to a lack of intellectual horse-power.

              Of course, PETA may not be setting the monkeys up to do creative stuff for the simple reason that they know the monkeys wouldn't co-operate so their entire case would collapse but I suspect that idea hasn't occurred to them.

        2. Stanislaw

          Re: Devil's Advocate

          @ ManFromOz

          I am familiar with Singer's work. He is indeed a very stimulating read, and I highly recommend anyone to give it a try.

          I respectfully disagree with practically everything he has to say.

          Just to comment on a single point: I think you'd be doing well to find a measure more objective than whether an organism is H. sapiens or not.

          @ Meph

          I honestly hadn't considered that and I find it depressing that I might have given PETA more credit than they deserve. You may well be right.

        3. Neil Lewis

          Re: Devil's Advocate

          The whole concept of rights of any sort is an entirely human construct

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Devil's Advocate

            "The whole concept of rights of any sort is an entirely human construct"

            That's a bit of a broad brush. While not supporting PETA and especially this legal case in way, I'm pretty sure that in many animal groupings, including but not limited to primates, dolphins, wolves there is a hierarchy which confers certain "rights" on certain animals depending on their position in the hierarchy and those "rights" can be rescinded when their position in the hierarchy is successfully challenged, eg who gets to eat first.

      4. missingegg

        Re: Devil's Advocate

        While I don't necessarily think that animals should be able to hold copyright, I completely reject your argument that giving rights to animals will somehow drag down humans. I believe human rights exist to try and prevent the ill-treatment of humans. Not because we need to be differentiated from animals. Your argument that giving rights to animals will diminish humans is perilously close to the argument that homosexual people can't be allowed to marry, because it somehow devalues traditional heterosexual marriage.

      5. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Devil's Advocate

        "They exist precisely to differentiate us from the rest of the animal kingdom"

        No they don't, they exist to try to avoid the exploitation and/or abuse of people. Exploitation and abuse of animals is a separate issue.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Devil's Advocate

          > No they don't, they exist to try to avoid the exploitation and/or abuse of people. Exploitation and abuse of animals is a separate issue.

          In the past there were many peoples who were considered by europeans and americans to be animals and thus exploitation and abuse of them was a 'god given' right for white men. Which is why slavery existed.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Devil's Advocate

      "but for them to then claim the "exclusive rights" to something created by a monkey, just because the monkey used their camera, is beyond ridiculous."

      Maybe you should read the article again, you seem to have it back to front...

    4. Jez Burns

      Re: Devil's Advocate

      @Oh Homer: I think the logical fallacy you've used is called 'poisoning the well'. Could you explain how - if you like to own anything or be paid for any work you do - the 'premise of copyright' is ridiculous (beyond a flimsy and nonsensical assertion that all intellectual endeavour is derivative)? If you can make a convincing argument against ownership of stuff (as intellectual property is no different from physical property) I will quite happily have your car, your house, and the shirt off your back.

  3. Marshalltown
    Thumb Down

    Corporations - meh

    The court decision declaring corporations to have the same rights as people simply demonstrated that even judges can have off days or be on the take. It has since been the grounds for any number of additional stupid decisions.

    1. Jim Mitchell

      Re: Corporations - meh

      The obvious distinction is that a corporation is essentially a group of people, it is just that the membership can change over time.

      Monkeys are not groups of people.

    2. Infernoz Bronze badge
      Devil

      Re: Corporations - meh

      Not just a mere off day, more like insanely evil, because it effectively elevates these legally-required-to-be-psychopathic zombies above humans! Corporations should have significantly less power than living human beings!

    3. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Corporations - meh

      Buzzzz. WRONG. They ruled on body corporate status and the rights pertaining thereto. That's not just corporations, it's ANY group of people acting in concert. So it includes trade-unions, Greenpeace, political parties, the New York Times, the NRA, PETA themselves, sports clubs and 'teh evil corpratshuns'.

      And they ruled that just because you are acting as a group you don't lose your protections and rights. Unless you think that the police should be able to tap trade-unions phone lines at will because they have no rights , that the taxman should be able to seize anything they want without recourse from your football club or the White House should be able to force the NYT to run favourable stories because freedom of expression doesn't apply to companies. In which case I can't help you.

  4. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Trollface

    We are all monkeys...

    so why withhold copyright from this particular one ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We are all monkeys...

      Evolution 101 - humans are not monkeys.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Joke

        EEK!

        Tell the librarian he's a monkey, and see how that ends

        1. David Nash Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: EEK!

          I think you mean OOK

    2. Steven Jones

      Re: We are all monkeys...

      All humans are monkeys. Not all monkeys are humans.

      nb. for pedant, humans are apes, but apes are also monkeys albeit the norm is to use the more specific term.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We are all monkeys...

        Re: "humans are apes, but apes are also monkeys albeit the norm is to use the more specific term."

        In biological classification the order of primates, specifically the sub-order of simians, included both apes and monkeys but apes are NOT monkeys. Traditionally hominins were also simians but neither apes nor monkeys, more recently humans are classed as great apes but are still not monkeys.

        1. Sweep

          Re: We are all monkeys...

          Actually AC you're wrong. In cladistics (biological classification) apes ARE monkeys.

          If you don't consider apes to be monkeys then you're left with a paraphyletic grouping consisting of old- and new-world monkeys with apes (which evolved after these 2 groups split) stuck in the middle.

          In cladistics you can't have paraphyletic groups which is why you now see Tyrannosaurs referred to as "non-avian dinosaurs".

          1. lorisarvendu

            Re: We are all monkeys...

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--szrOHtR6U

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the monkey confused ?

    Wikipedia not removing the image when asked by the photographer, made me decide: no more support from my wallet. Jimmy beggs for money but does not recognizing the value of the photographer's work ?

    1. h4rm0ny
      Flame

      Re: Is the monkey confused ?

      I made the same decision over it. I used to contribute yearly to Wikipeda until this. I actually went as far as contacting them to let them know why and got a rather high-handed, morally superior response WIKIsplaining to me why there was no copyright on the picture. An explanation that ignored the actual facts of the matter, as it happens.

      A blackly comic note to this would be that if PETA were to win this, then all those Wikimedia proponents who argued that they didn't have to pay licence fees because Slater didn't own the copyright due to the monkey actually being the creator, would now find themselves being sued by PETA for back-usage of the image based on their own arguments.

  6. Daggerchild Silver badge
    Terminator

    if cost == 0 then panic

    "something that could have significant implications in future as computers use artificial intelligence to capture and create images."

    Oh hell, there's far more than that in that Pandora's box. People are already working on auto-scientific-research systems and Big Pharma already spend a lot of time patenting every molecular variant near their Precious to prevent anyone inventing anything nearby..

    Imagine if the Patent Office got the same number of autopatents as Youtube get DMCA takedown requests, with the same level of validity?

    1. Not also known as SC

      Re: if cost == 0 then panic

      "something that could have significant implications in future as computers use artificial intelligence to capture and create images."

      You don't need to even consider AI, What happens if a photo is set up so that a ball is released at a random time, rolls down a slope breaking a sensor beam and releasing the camera's shutter? I.e. no photographer pressing the button. Who would own the copyright of that?

      1. Jim Mitchell

        Re: if cost == 0 then panic

        To alter your question... If *I* push the ball down the slope, do I own the copyright, or does the person/monkey who setup the camera?

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: if cost == 0 then panic

          >>"To alter your question... If *I* push the ball down the slope, do I own the copyright, or does the person/monkey who setup the camera?"

          It follows creative intent and input. If someone set up some gorgeous shot with a micro-camera of the ball-bearing down on the camera and you merely pushed the ball at some arbitrary time, then clearly the angles, the exposure, plus any post-work such as selection, cropping, colour balance, et al. are all the work of the photographer. They supplied the creative input and intent. This is especially the case if you didn't know about the camera or - as in the monkey's case - didn't know what it was and the exposure, lens, flash, et. al had all been chosen for you.

          If your pushing the ball had some creative intent or value. E.g. you saw a woodlouse walking across the path of the ball right in front of the camera and you timed it so that the woodlouse looked up in horror as the ball-bearing rolled towards it Indiana Jones style, then you would have grounds to claim copyright, barring contractual agreements otherwise.

          Copyright is to preserve intent and creative input.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: if cost == 0 then panic

            There seems to be an implicit belief that a created work MUST belong to someone, i.e. someone must have copyright. And yet there are thousands, millions, of things around the world which have no copyright; mainly because it's expired.The normal situation is that there IS no copyright - copyright is an artificial concept, granted by a court or the legal system, in order to protect the intellectual property of an individual, especially where use of said property involves pecuniary gain.

            I don't think Mr Slater could claim his "method" was patentable, well he could claim it was but it isn't, so the original image straight off the camera would have no copyright and be nobody's intellectual property. If he claimed that his enablement of the monkey to take a picture came him an intellectual claim to the image, then NIKON (or whoever) would likely have far more claim to images than almost any photographer on the planet as their intellectual contribution to the process of taking an image vastly outweighs the intellectual contribution of the photographer!

            HOWEVER, the fact that he processed the image, cropped it, adjusted the contrast, vibrance etc. means that the image used by various people across the internet is a derivative work. However a derivative work in itself does not embody its own copyright unless the work creating that derivative is significant... to be subject to copyright the creation of the derivative work must itself be an original work of skill, labour and judgement; minor alterations that do not substantially alter the original would not qualify.

            So we come down to the question of how much work did Mr Slater put into creating the final image that they're quibbling about? I'm say that level tweaks, crops etc are trivial adjustments... if someone took one of his images and did a couple of such tweaks then tried to claim it as a significant derivative work then he'd have something to say on the matter.

            So in my considered opinion... the original photograph had no attributable copyright, no intellectual component (I don't believe primates are legally recognised as having intellect, although they do have other rights that WE HAVE GIVEN THEM, such as under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981), and the work derived therefrom, having not had any significant work put into it in order to create it, would not have any copyright of its own and ipso facto the photograph is the intellectual property of no-one.

            1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: if cost == 0 then panic

              > So in my considered opinion... the original photograph had no attributable copyright,

              > and the work derived therefrom, having not had any significant work put into it in order to create it, would not have any copyright of its own and ipso facto the photograph is the intellectual property of no-one.

              Your opinion, no matter how long you have considered it, is wrong.

              First of all, the original photograph does have an automatic copyright no matter how much work was required to make the final image publishable. Secondly, this is irrelevant because it is unpublished and unavailable and the case is about the final work.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: if cost == 0 then panic

                "First of all, the original photograph does have an automatic copyright no matter how much work was required to make the final image publishable. Secondly, this is irrelevant because it is unpublished and unavailable and the case is about the final work."

                I'm glad you added the "secondly" because that original image was taken in the jurisdiction of Indonesia and although they are signed up to Berne, TRIPS and WCT, you'd need an Indonesian lawyer to give an opinion on whether copyright is automatic and who or what gets it.

                As it is, I'm still not sure what jurisdiction a US court has over any of this anyway. The USA didn't seem all that interested in international copyright recognition until about 1955, UCC aka Berne-Lite. Johnny come latelys who only signed up for Berne in 1989, shortly after it's 100th anniversary.

                1. TRT Silver badge

                  Re: if cost == 0 then panic

                  My understanding of Mr Slater's creative input was from this 2011 article where he describes leaving his camera on a tripod for a moment and unexpectedly discovering that the animals were using it, taking 100s of photos. He gives a different account later, saying he trained and coaxed them.

                  Now, it's utterly, utterly unfair of PETA and Wikipedia to fight him legally about this, incurring up-front costs even IF the courts make a costs order in his favour. I feel Mr Slater *should* be entitled to make a living from his DISCOVERY, but there's no more copyright in the original photo than there is in discovering a piece of tree bark in the shape of the Virgin Mary. However I do take the point that as he has effectively taken a photograph of the photograph, then he owns the copyright in that!

                  Who owns the copyright in my collection of a particular favourite photographic subject of mine, photographers taking pictures?

                  1. h4rm0ny

                    Re: if cost == 0 then panic

                    >>"My understanding of Mr Slater's creative input was from this 2011 article where he describes leaving his camera on a tripod for a moment and unexpectedly discovering that the animals were using it, taking 100s of photos. He gives a different account later, saying he trained and coaxed them."

                    They're not different accounts, they're accounts of two different events. The one you refer to is that the monkeys were fiddling around with his camera, intrigued by seeing their reflection in the glass. After this happened, David Slater later set up the camera with the intent of getting them to trigger it themselves, picking out an appropriate lens, putting it on suitable settings, attaching it to a tripod which he remained close to steady and also did the selection and post-work (creative inputs by themselves). It's not changing his story, it's bad reporting conflating two separate incidents. Probably because when this story first broke, a tale of the monkey's running off with his camera and him later finding these photos sounded more entertaining to the journalists or editors.

      2. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: if cost == 0 then panic

        "You don't need to even consider AI, What happens if a photo is set up so that a ball is released at a random time, rolls down a slope breaking a sensor beam and releasing the camera's shutter? I.e. no photographer pressing the button. Who would own the copyright of that?"

        Well, that's just a randomized Rube Goldberg timer which someone set up. You could very well just release the ball manually but the time for the ball to roll down would still never have the exact time if you drill it down to milli- or microseconds.

        I think a better analogy would be:

        If an animal triggers a (concealed) wildlife camera to take a picture - who owns the copyright?

        The animal very likely doesn't understand the concept of pictures or taking them. Probably the monkey in question saw its face in the LCD view finder and kept pressing the protruding trigger which made a funny noise. (don't know which sort of camera and set up it had)

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: if cost == 0 then panic

          >What happens if a photo is set up so that a ball is released at a random time

          That has already been covered lots of times, it is the photographer that setup the shot.

          The interesting part of this case is that monkey picked up the camera and framed the shot itself.

          >Probably the monkey in question saw its face in the LCD view finder and kept pressing the protruding trigger which made a funny noise.

          I think this describes most of snapchat/facebook/the internet

          1. A K Stiles
            Happy

            Re: if cost == 0 then panic

            >What happens if a photo is set up so that a ball is released at a random time

            I have a camera with 'smile' detection, it's on a tripod pointing at a blank wall. When people go and stand in front of it and smile, it takes their picture. I haven't really framed the photo of them and them smiling triggered the shot, so who now owns the copyright on that picture?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: if cost == 0 then panic

              You own the copyright, same as all the other photographers setting up cameras for wildlife to trigger own the shots generated. Ask National Geographic.

          2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: if cost == 0 then panic

            > That has already been covered lots of times, it is the photographer that setup the shot.

            Or the photographer's employer. Do you think that several cameramen own the copyrights to movies?

        2. Alan J. Wylie

          reductio ad absurdum

          If an animal triggers a (concealed) wildlife camera to take a picture - who owns the copyright?

          +1

          My thought exactly.

          1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: reductio ad absurdum

            It is just more evidence (as if any was really needed) that the USA is a dying empire. They are arguing about things like this rather than more important matters (which El Trumpo denies is happening). Sort of like trying to arrange the chairs on a ship that has been holed by an iceberg?????

            Like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns and all that.

            That aside, it is possible that if the monkey wins then it will be extradited to the USA to face charges of Income Tax evasion. Oh bugger. More lawyers feeding from the trough. that is all we need (not).

            I sort of wish that all ambulance chasing lawyers including all the ones involved representing PETA would suffer a horrible lingering and intensly painful death as reward for their contribution to society. Sadly they won't and they'll continue to rake in the big bucks as they screw with the lives of mere mortals.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: reductio ad absurdum

              I sort of wish that all ambulance chasing lawyers including all the ones involved representing PETA would suffer a horrible lingering and intensly painful death as reward for their contribution to society.

              That's too extreme. I'd just make them have to live with those monkeys for the rest of their lives and make a documentary. A sort of "get me out of here", but without the "get me out of here" part.

              On second thought, that would be *real* animal cruelty. OK, we just put the lot in a cage at the zoo *instead* of monkeys. Earns ticket fees so cheaper than prison and it provides entertainment to boot.

            2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: reductio ad absurdum

              Like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns and all that.

              *Cough*

              <ObPedant = On>

              Violins (of any sort) hadn't been invented then. If the event happened at all[1] then it's more likely he played his lyre while Rome burned.

              </OP>

              [1] History is written by the winners - the emperors that followed Nero were most definately not his fans..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: if cost == 0 then panic

      There's no panic over here in the UK/Europe regarding computer generated images - Copyright law already covers this. Copyright is held by whomever made the arrangements (e.g. programmed, fed data) that gave rise to the images.

      This is already an established and well-used process, for example when the Met Office sells computer generated weather forecasting images based on satellite data...

      I would guess that in fact the US has similar laws and am mildly surprised that the analogy was not used in court.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: if cost == 0 then panic

        > Copyright is held by whomever made the arrangements (e.g. programmed, fed data) that gave rise to the images.

        Or, more likely, their employer.

    3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: if cost == 0 then panic

      > Imagine if the Patent Office got the same number of autopatents as ...

      They'd be insane rich from the application fees and would do their usual autoapprove so that they kept the fees and the annual renewals. Any challenges would require fees to be paid for that. Business as usual then.

      > Youtube get DMCA takedown requests

      Now, if a fee was required to be paid for a takedown request ...

  7. Herby Silver badge

    I thought PETA stood for...

    People Eating Tasty Animals, but now that I see "Patently Evil Tedious Arsenugets", I stand corrected.

    Now where is that nice steak I want! Yum, tasty!

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Chimp Copyrights Matter! Not!

    This is not a genetically uplifted chimp, discontinue this stupidity forthwith!

    Naruto will be on the dinner plate or otherwise deceased until this is over in any case.

  9. hughca

    Pressing shutter button != taking photo ?

    I'm pretty sure on larger professional studio photography shoots it is very often one of the photographers assistants that will actually press the button. That doesn't mean the photographer doesn't get credit for the image as they are the ones who have designed the lighting, framing, perhaps set or costumes, and directed the actions of any warm props involved. I suppose in that example they probably wouldn't own the copyright either as the client would probably own it - and the client definitely didn't press the shutter button.

    1. Steven Jones

      Re: Pressing shutter button != taking photo ?

      There is a specific exception in law that the owner of the copyright is not the creator is he/she is acting in an employee status. In that case the employerr is the owner of the copyright unless there are specific contractual terms that apply.

      The same rule applies if you employ (say) a design company to produce a logo for your company. However, it is normal in such circumstances to explicitly cover these issues in a contract. For example, if you employ a wedding photographer, he/she will generally have a condition retaining copyright unless this is agreed otherwise (which will generally be at a cost).

      1. Graybyrd
        Windows

        Re: Pressing shutter button != taking photo ?

        There is a specific exception in law that the owner of the copyright is not the creator is he/she is acting in an employee status.

        If Slater can establish that he laid out bananas and other tasty treats for the monkeys, and that the continuance of the rewards was contingent upon the monkeys coming around to fool with the camera, then the employer/employee relationship seems obvious. Slater owns the copyright. Monkey got the banana. Peta gets the lawyers bills.

    2. Pat Att

      Re: Pressing shutter button != taking photo ?

      I suppose in that example they probably wouldn't own the copyright either as the client would probably own it - and the client definitely didn't press the shutter button.

      It's rare that the client would own it, but may do if the particular contract said so. In the case you suggested, the studio would own it, as the assistant would be an employee of the studio, and first ownership (in the UK at least) goes to the employer for work done by an employee. But even so, I suspect that the assistant wouldn't own it, but it would be owned by the person making all the creative decisions, i.e. the main photographer.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTF???

    I've often wondered why legal cases take so long... Why they often get tied up for years... Its unjust to those who genuinely have been wronged and are using the court system to seek restitution... I guess we have an answer to explain all the delays now.. Talk about a waste of charity money too!

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: WTF???

      Talk about a waste of charity money too!

      In this case it's PETA, so the sooner they run out of money, the better.

  11. Oengus Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    2 thumbs up for this line

    Meanwhile, in Indonesia, Naruto the crested macaque doesn't give a single, solitary fuck.

    Best line I have read in a while... and sums the situation up perfectly.

    1. Ogi

      Re: 2 thumbs up for this line

      "Best line I have read in a while... and sums the situation up perfectly."

      I fully agree. Made me laugh at the end, and so very true.

      It is proof that between the lawyers, copyright system and arguing over who gets bits of paper with numbers written on them from a reproduction of a bunch of light waves, the monkey is the wisest of the lot. Just eat, sleep, shag and repeat. Pretty much the good life.

      Sometimes I feel humans just invent problems so they can have an argument over them. I guess not having to run away from hungry Jaguars has given us quite a lot of free time, and some people are having trouble filling the hours with something productive.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2 thumbs up for this line

        'Sometimes I feel humans just invent problems so they can have an argument over them. I guess not having to run away from hungry Jaguars has given us quite a lot of free time, '

        Problem is, even back in the days where hungry Jaguars and their kin featured large in our daily existence, the proto-lawyers were the ones who stayed safely in the caves, usually in the guise of priests/shamans/witch-doctors/whatever...

        FSM's Law/Human Law, they don't care what they implement, and were probably the ones instrumental in deciding which 'lucky' tribal member got to appease the gods ( a.k.a feed the hungry large snarly kitty...)

        Proto-Lawyershamantypething: 'hey, did I say meet the gods?, oops, I meant meat for the gods..me bad..'

        Legal types, fucking with human existence since the year dot...

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 2 thumbs up for this line

        "It is proof that between the lawyers, copyright system and arguing over who gets bits of paper with numbers written on them from a reproduction of a bunch of light waves, the monkey is the wisest of the lot."

        Douglas Adams had this to say:

        This planet has, or had, a problem, which was this. Most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small, green pieces of paper, which is odd, because on the whole, it wasn't the small, green pieces of paper which were unhappy. And so the problem remained, and lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches. Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake coming down from the trees in the first place, and some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no-one should ever have left the oceans.

  12. frank ly Silver badge

    Legal procedures

    "PETA seemingly promised her that if Naruto won the case, he could receive significant royalties ..."

    That's when Naruto's Indonesian lawyer (with a contract with Naruto's thumbprint on it) will jump up and claim protective custody of the royalties money.

  13. Haku
    Coat

    Don't let PETA get access to monkeys with typewriters.

    Because eventually they'll want to own the copyright on Shakespear's work.

  14. Black Betty

    Was Naruto aware of what he was doing or simply grimacing at his reflection?

    < no body >

  15. Harry the Bastard

    monkeys are evil

    if peta gets that macaque copyright, next thing you know he'll be running for president, then we're really screwed

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: monkeys are evil

      Too late..

    2. Bloodbeastterror

      Re: monkeys are evil

      Too late. It's already happened.

  16. MrDamage

    Let PETA win

    Set the precedent. Then watch everyone who triggers a red-light or speed camera sue the police and courts for breach of copyright should the picture be published in any way.

    After all, it is the person who is triggering the camera who effectively "presses the button"

    I'll get my coat. It's the one with the gold medal for shit-stirring in the pocket.

  17. jake Silver badge

    This is what happens ...

    ... when you no-longer teach Critical Thinking to the young.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: This is what happens ...

      It's what happens when you teach that "critical thinking" can be billed at $200/hr

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reason

    it was a bad idea to come down from the trees in the first place was "the lawyers in the undergrowth".

  19. Bloodbeastterror

    "the case was wasting judicial resources"

    Exactly.

    I respected PETA for their work in animal welfare (despite the comments already posted suggesting otherwise), but this is really too much stupidity. Is this how they spend money donated for the purpose of looking after animals?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: "the case was wasting judicial resources"

      No, they use a portion of it to euthanize the vast majority of animals given to them for care. Hope this helps.

    2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: "the case was wasting judicial resources"

      "I respected PETA for their work in animal welfare"

      No offence, but you've swallowed the cool aid.

      PETA is about promoting PETA, and getting more money for PETA. Anything that gets in the way of that goes by the wayside.

      That means that PETA needs to be generating publicity, as that results in donations. Not actually doing anything, as that is expensive. Hence the use of sexy pictures, and lots of details on the animals they "rescue" but none on what happens next.

      It's no secret that PETA euthanise the majority of the animals they take into care. They've been prosecuted for illegally dumping animal corpses into dumpsters, and for euthanising "stray" animals they picked up before attempting to find the owners.

      This is not unique to any group that runs an animal shelter, the SPCA euthanises maybe 30-40% of the cats and dogs it receives and places the rest. PETA, based on it's own stats for animals taken into care and animals placed into homes, euthanises 70-100% of it's intake.

      "Is this how they spend money donated for the purpose of looking after animals?"

      That's not what a donation to PETA will do. If you want to support a charity that looks after animals, then by all means do but PETA is not the SPCA. If PETA has convinced you that a donation to them will save actual individual animals, rather than the general promotion of animal rights, then their marketing arm is earning their generous remuneration.

      PETAs reaction when they are caught doing illegal activities is to deny it, followed by bring in the lawyers. Not to claim that the individuals caught are doing something against PETA policy, but typical scum-bag lawyer techniques. So PETAs animal shelters are in fact not legally animal shelters (so they don't have to follow standards pushed for by, er, PETA) but are places where they can store and execute animals. There is supposed to be a waiting period before you euthanise an animal that isn't in immediate distress, typically a week or so. PETA has been repeatedly shown to kill animals within 24 hours of taking them in, even doing things like collecting animals from another shelter and immediately killing them in the parking lot.

      I would always advise people to have a look at what a charity actually does, rather than what a charity says it does. PETA is a top example of an almost cynical hypocritical charity.

  20. Diogenes

    Is his name really Naruto?

    How do PETA know it his real name? Has he consented to the use of the name Naruto or would he rather be known as ..... .?

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Is his name really Naruto?

      as he consented to the use of the name Naruto or would he rather be known as ..... .?

      'Naruto' is a name some human made up for him. While he would probably end up recognising that sound as referring to him (after all, dogs and cats can and I suspect he's a fair bit brighter then one of them) I doubt very much whether he understands the concept of "name".

      So - like most of this case, the fact that someone has assigned a name to him is purely a human construct (like copyright) and something that the animal in question almost certainly doesn't understand.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Naruto or would he rather be known as ..... .?

      Orochimaru?

    3. pleb

      Re: Is his name really Naruto?

      His? Woah, not so fast. Does the monkey referred to as Naruto consent to the use of the male pronoun?

  21. tony

    Defence

    So why does Nauto live on Endor?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: So why does Nauto live on Endor?

      He doesn't live there - e'wo(r)ks there.

  22. Wokstation

    To quote...

    ...a well-read expert on copyrights and furry bipeds:

    "Oook oook,oook. Oook!"

    I think that settles it.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: To quote...

      Can't argue with that (since I want to keep my arms attached).

  23. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Tear the whole system down

    We all know the law is an ass. I suggest that someone should find that ass and (being the owner or embodiment of "law") either feed it all the law books in existence and see what comes out, or ask it if it is happy for it to represent "the law" in its entirety.

    Unless the ass specifically says yes, I cannot see how the law could claim any basis to continue. In which case the only solution would be to tear it all up and start again.

    Possibly starting with the statement:

    These laws govern the human inhabitants of planet Earth only.

  24. Steven Jones

    Concept of "legal person" and copyright ownershi

    "There's nothing in copyright law that says a monkey, or any animal, can't hold copyright, but then there's nothing that says they can, either."

    I would argue that in law at the moment animals can't hold copyright. Only "legal persons" can own copyrights (companies, organisations, people and so on). A monkey is not currently recognised as a "legal person" in law (at least in the USA) although there have been some who have tried to have such a status recognised in law for some "higher animals", like primates. This is something of a continuing debate.

    A "legal person" is a notion in US and English Common Law, which has equivalents in almost all jurisdictions, which includes both natural persons and organisations, like companies, which are recognised in law as have such a status. That means they can own assets, can sue/be sued, be prosecuted and so on.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Concept of "legal person" and copyright ownershi

      Copyright is a component of intellectual property rights. It requires an intellectual effort, however minimal, in order to be created. Does copyright exist in the paint splatter when someone accidentally knocks a paint-filled balloon off the top of a tall building?

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Concept of "legal person" and copyright ownershi

        Accidentally and in a public place? Probably not. However, there was little accidental about this photo. The photographer went to a lot of effort financially and creatively to set it up in the hopes of getting one of the monkeys to trigger it and for that to result in a good photograph.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Concept of "legal person" and copyright ownershi

      "A monkey is not currently recognised as a "legal person" in law"

      The people of Hartlepool may take issue with that.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Concept of "legal person" and copyright ownershi

        Monkey Hangers of Hartle Pool is not to be confused with Ape Hangers and a Harley Fool ... Completely different thingies.

  25. KorndogDev

    This case calls for a monkey judge

    And they might not be out of luck!

  26. Christoph Silver badge

    Why is an Indonesian monkey suing in the courts of the USA? Is it not Indonesian copyright law that applies?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If the photo is being copied in the USA, then US law applies to that situation, obviously.

      Also, I don't suppose a case like this would get as far as a court in any other jurisdiction.

      Although this case is crazy, it does raise some interesting general questions. For me, the main problem is the idea that a "photographer" should automatically own copyright in a picture they "made" even if the "photographer" used no skill whatsoever, while the people in the picture, and the people who designed objects in the picture, perhaps applied large amounts of skill. Who is the "author" in these situations? Idiot with smartphone, organisation owning security camera, or the people who actually created the scene being photographed?

      I think it's generally agreed that you don't get a new copyright by sticking something into a photocopier. Well, most "photography" isn't much different from photocopying.

      1. h4rm0ny
        Facepalm

        I think it's generally agreed that you don't get a new copyright by sticking something into a photocopier. Well, most "photography" isn't much different from photocopying.

        Massive ignorance on display here. Ignorance of the details of this case and ignorance of photography in general. Study the subject a little before making such stupid statements.

      2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        ownership

        "For me, the main problem is the idea that a "photographer" should automatically own copyright in a picture they "made" even if the "photographer" used no skill whatsoever,"

        That's easy. If they used no skill, none of the photos would be of any use. If you mean "minimal skill" then you still have the issue of the picture being any good, unless I missed the shot composition function on the camera.

        Assuming the photographer has the right to take the picture (public place or private property with permission) and has not been employed to take the picture, then *clearly* the image should belong to the photographer. Anything else is just bonkers.

        Now, as for anyone who is "creating the scene", depending on where you are you either have an expectation of privacy or not. If not (ie in public) then you get no say. If you do, then publishing those photos would be problematic/illegal. Hence why you sign a model release or equivalent* for any reputable production, even if you're just an extra.

        If it's a thing rather than a person, then putting it on private property should prevent anyone from (legally) taking pictures of it.

        Photographer has copyright is best of the situation, otherwise you'll be stuck with things like wedding photos where you need to pay for copyright release to the owners of the church, the architect, the builders, the florists, the seamstress and tailor, the cobbler... and so on. Would end up with more nudes I suppose...

        * can't recall what the one for filming was, but broadly said that I agree to my image being used for whatever purposes New Line feels like.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: ownership

          > then *clearly* the image should belong to the photographer. Anything else is just bonkers.

          Copyright may belong to the 'photographer', or the employer, or the client, or to others depending on contracts, employment laws, or several other things, none of which are 'bonkers'.

  27. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Why did PETA get involved?

    Surely the Coalition for the Liberation of Itinerant Tree-dwellers were better suited for this?

  28. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Meanwhile - the photographer

    Can't afford to replace his equipment or even attend the court case:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/12/monkey-selfie-macaque-copyright-court-david-slater

  29. dinmorb

    Let's be sensible

    Why not wait until Naruto lodges his own claim to the copyright?

  30. adam payne Silver badge

    "What happened was that animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sued on Naruto's behalf."

    Do PETA not have better things to do with their time?

    Sounds like they want to make money.

    A monkey has no idea of money, copyright, courts, legal proceedings etc etc. So how can a monkey hold a copyright?

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > Sounds like they want to make money.

      No, it is unlikely that they would, and certainly not enough to pay the lawyers.

      What they want is to establish animal rights, such as the ability for an animal to own property.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh how the copyright mafia would love it if an animal could hold copyright, they'd be transferring them to the Greenland shark which can live up to 500 years. Imagine death +70 years on that.

  32. B83
    WTF?

    Hartley Pool

    I've heard some Hartley Pool supporters are on the lookout for Naruto.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_hanger

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My thinking

    PETA are not acting for the benfit of the monkey in question, IMHO this is all about furthering their own finacial and political agenda.

    The PHOTOGRAPHER infested funds and worked to set up the shot and even if the particular picture had been accidental then that has not historically stopped people from benefiting from a happy circumstances.

    That being said, without the monkey, the photgrapher would not have the image to copywrite, It would be reasonable that once the photographer has made a reasonable return on his investment that he return some funds to the benefit of the subject. There does seem to be genuine people at the location who could accept funds for the betterment of his co-creator. Further it would seem reasonable that the photgrapher would show his appreciation and a desire for the continuation of the environment and subject that allowed him a living.

    This does not mean that he should kowtow to a bunch of grabbers who create nothing but hot air, I was thinking more along the lines of a quiet donation to a group that would use the money only to protect the wild life and environments where the picture was taken i.e. not PETA.

  34. NBCanuck
    Facepalm

    Took a picture?

    The monkey saw the camera and was curious.

    The monkey started touching the camera to examine it.

    Monkey touches button....camera goes click.

    Monkey like click.

    Monkey touches button again....and again...and again. Happy monkey!

    The monkey is unaware that he took a picture.

    Even given that, how do we know that the monkey has agreed to be represented by anyone?

    Maybe the shrewd monkey is merely waiting for mass use of the picture before sending in his own lawyer to sue everyone.

  35. dmacleo

    fuck peta.

    nuff' said.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow. And I thought Peta was stupid before this

    This case reaks of drug abuse.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's Planet of the Apes I tell ya, we're doomed !

  38. matchbx
    Joke

    use the magic words

    Klaatu Barada Naruto

    and send this case back to 1300 AD

  39. DagD

    Where's my Nanner?

    Get a job, you filthy ape...

  40. ecofeco Silver badge
    Facepalm

    WTF?

    How is this even a thing? How?!

  41. John Savard Silver badge

    Obvious

    It should, of course, be an open and shut case; only the human photographer can hold the copyright. A monkey pressing the shutter release button, for legal purposes, should be precisely equivalent to the shutter release having been triggered by a gust of wind or a falling leaf.

    And, indeed, the principle that animals are part of nature, while humans are accountable for their actions, and have rights, and are part of the social and political sphere, is well-established in our laws as well as our culture and our religious faiths.

  42. Paul

    why is the copyright case being held in the USA? The photograph was taken in Indonesia by an Indonesian entity.

  43. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Boffin

    Bear with me...

    The issue seems to be whether a monkey can own the copyright..

    I don't think it should be that way - it should be more related to the circumstances. It was the guys equipment and setup, he should own the copyright.

    Similarly, if instead of a monkey, it was a 2 year old kid, the guy with the equipment should win.

    However, I don't think this should generally mean monkeys can't own a copyright - that would be unfair for those occasions when monkeys do indeed purchase the equipment and set up the shot.

    HTH - IANAL

  44. Radon

    First question to ask the complainants

    What is the monkey's name?

    Uhhhh...... Naruto......

    No, not the name some human gave him. What is the monkey's name?

  45. simmondp

    Holiday Snaps

    The US law is plain daft, by this interpretation if I go on holiday and hand my camera to a random passer-by to take our photo, posing in front of a landmark (as many millions of people do); then legally that random person holds the copyright to the photo.....

    As opposed to the UK interpretation, my camera, I set up the pose and set the camera up, and give it to a fellow tourist to push the button - my copyright.

    Much more sane and sensible - and no monkey business!

    1. HelpfulJohn

      Re: Holiday Snaps

      A few days ago, I did this for a couple. I took a photo of both of them in front of a landmark using their phone-camera. I never once even considered that I might own the images. I only offered to help as they were alternating taking and being in their photographs. On their own, it was difficult to have any with them both in them, I decided to act as heir "employee", which meant they still owned the results.

      So I took a couple of photos of them from a couple of paces away, using their equipment.

      I then stepped back and took a couple more.

      I then took some more steps back, to get more of the building into the images and took some more.

      I then had a slightly disturbing thought ... and stepped forward, holding out their phone.

      When they looked at the resulting images they were quite well pleased.

      I suspect they were also pleased that I stopped stepping away from them while holding their phone.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait that's not the story!

    Didn't this involve Wikipedia? That's why copyright became an issue?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is another reason for not supporting PETA

    There are many worthy causes to be undertaken, such as improving the lives of chickens in factory farms (that are truly dreadful), but not this.

  48. Tatsky

    So... The argument would go that the copyright of any footage obtained by someone putting a camera on an animal would belong to that animal, because the animal is obtaining the shot, moving the camera, and exploring the environment?

    I would love to see YouTube come up with an algorithm to determine whether footage has been obtained from an animal, and then present the uploader with a form which the animal must complete to authorise use of the footage.

  49. John Gamble
    Angel

    Meanwhile, We're Missing the Most Important Detail In the Article

    "Hit the Road Jack" was written by Percy Mayfield. Ray Charles's recording is of course the most famous version though.

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