U.S.Copyright Office: Monkey Selfies Can’t Be Copyrighted


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Hardly three weeks after the monkey business revolving around the monkey selfie ensued, the US Copyright Office made a comment on the issue in its 1,222-page long document “Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition“. Just as a quick reminder: 2011 a crested black macaque took the said monkey selfie, which you can view below, with a camera belonging to the British nature photographer David Slater. Since the photo wasn’t captured by a human and since not a single copyright law in the world recognizes animals as creators/authors, Wikimedia declared it public domain, added it to its commons library and subsequently refused Slater’s take-down request. According to latest interviews Slater was intent of taking legal action against Wikipedia, but before this could take place, the US Copyright Office released the above-mentioned document.

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 Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

© nameless crested black macaque (taken with David Slater‘s camera)

According to the document – and this is really the proof that government agencies can have a sense of humor – photos made by animals, plants, divine and supernatural beings can’t be registered nor are they protected by copyright law. Those photos however, which were “inspired by a divine spirit” can be registered and are protected by copyright law. Sounds too absurd to be true? Here is the original text from the document, on page 54:

The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants. Likewise, the Office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings, although the Office may register a work where the application or the deposit copy state that the work was inspired by a divine spirit…

  1. The last part could have sense if one thinks in the several churches from USA. A religious group could ask to register a text on behalf of their deity…

    Reply

  2. […] probably remember the curious story about the monky selfie I’ve reported about here and here in August last year? Just to refresh your memory in case you don’t, back in 2011 a macaque female […]

    Reply

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