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.
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…