#CopyrightWars

The list of topics that can and cannot be copyrighted is extensive, but not always clearcut. Oftentimes, questions and issues regarding the details of copyright law are brought to the courts to be deliberated over, and sometimes results can be controversial. Copyright issues have extended far beyond the “human realm.” A few years ago, a photographer by the name of David Slater was doing his job in Indonesia, when by chance a macaque monkey named Naruto deftly snapped what appeared to be a quick selfie with Slater’s camera. Naruto appeared to be overjoyed with the newfound device in his hand, his visage captured as innocent and unaware as his sleepy eyes and wide-mouthed grin welcome viewers to smile at the wonders of the animal kingdom. The picture seemed comical and lighthearted, but it brought about a very public battle that questioned animal rights and ownership. This occurred in the form of a copyright battle between PETA and David Slater, focusing on which entity owned the picture in question, Naruto the macaque who took it, or Slater, the human, whose camera it was. This trial brought up questions regarding the ways that U.S law protects animals as well as humans, and took quite a few years to settle. Since there weren’t any clauses at the time detailing a case this specific, PETA and Slater came to the conclusion that the ethical thing to do would be for Slater to treat the photograph as his own, yet donate a percentage of revenue made to different organizations that help macaque monkeys. Considering the pictures’ authenticity, it came as no surprise that Slater would capitalize on it, making it his own personal brand by selling merchandise. His name will always be associated with Naruto’s selfie, Google David Slater and a wealth of monkey pictures show up, mostly the original work in question as well as a sprinkling of mimics and copy-cats. Animals have always photographed well, the camera seems to be able to capture a “soulful quality” that some have a hard time seeing on their own. This case came about at a time where political correctness was just hitting the mainstream and brought up many great questions about how we view and treat the beings we cohabit this planet with.

 

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/12/550417823/-animal-rights-advocates-photographer-compromise-over-ownership-of-monkey-selfie