Wikimedia says Macaque owns selfie, won’t remove photo

Macaque selfie
This photo, taken by British Nature Photographer David Slater's camera in the hands of a crested black macaque in Indonesia is under scrutiny.

Wikimedia has refused to take down a photo of a Macaque posted to its site because it contests the owner of the camera that took the photos claims to ownership.

Wikimedia, the non-profit organization that runs Wikipedia, claims the photo is in the public domain because “as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.”

According to David Slater, the Macaque took the photo of itself when it borrowed his camera. Slater is a nature photographer. The Macaca nigra in the photo in question used his camera to snap the now-famous selfie and he has requested repeatedly to have the photo removed, the Telegraph says. Slater said during the 2011 trip into the jungles of Indonesia that the macaque took hundred of photos of itself, including the picture in question.

He told the Telegraph that the trip cost him about $2,600 and, although the image’s popularity has soared, he hasn’t made any money off it. In fact, he said he faces a $18,000 fight if he takes the group to court.

The Wikimedia Commons, where the photo is posted, hosts millions of public-domain pictures. Based a new transparency policy by the company, Wikimedia released a report detailing its rejection of Slater’s removal request.

The report reads as follows:

“To claim copyright, the photographer would have had to make substantial contributions to the final image, and even then, they’d only have copyright for those alterations, not the underlying image. This means that there was no one on whom to bestow copyright, so the image falls into the public domain.”


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