The following story about famous British nature photographer David Slater and the monkey selfie has been dividing the photo community for days and may potentially turn the legal understanding of animals upside down completely.
When Slater visited the Indonesian isle Sulawesi in 2011 to take pictures of macaques, he left his camera unattended for a moment. A macaque female took advantage of this circumstance, grabbed the camera and immediately took a few hundred photos – including selfies. A little later, Slater openly presented the outstanding pictures and portrayed how exactly the photos came into being in numerous interviews. Here you’ll find the Daily Mail article from back then.
As the photographer neither took the picture himself nor directly contributed to its coming into being, Wikipedia parent company Wikimedia declared it common property and added it to their commons collection. Slater thus complained and called for Wikimedia to delete the picture from their collection, as he believes to be the originator. But since the monkey, not Slater, shot the photo, Wikimedia refused to meet the take-down request. Slater now wants court to decide in that matter.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
© unnamed Sulawesi crested macaque (with David Slater‘s camera)
Interesting in this context are the texts on Slater’s website. He repeatedly declares just how strongly he feels about the critically endangered black apes. If this is really the case, why insist on a contentious right and haul Wikimedia before the courts? Wouldn’t the pictures rather contribute to preserving this species by reaching as many people as possible and pointing to the fact how wonderful and intelligent these animals are?