Monkey Selfie Not Eligible for Copyright Registration Under New Rules

Monkey selfie, shot with David Slater's camera.

Monkey selfie, shot with David Slater’s camera.

The US Copyright Office has issued a report stating that it will not register works produced by “nature, animals, or plants,” effectively undermining photographer David Slater’s claim that he owns copyright to a selfie made by a monkey with one of his cameras, reports.

The rule was issued Tuesday as part of a 1,222-page document addressing a variety of administrative practices by the copyright office, according to the tech website.

The photo in question was shot by a monkey that ran off with one of Slater’s cameras while he was on a shoot in Indonesia. The photo went viral in 2011.

A dispute over copyright to the photo erupted earlier this month when Wikimedia Commons, a collection of 22 million public domain images, posted the image without Slater’s permission. Wikimedia indicated in caption information with the photo that the author of a photo owns copyright, not the camera owner, and that only people can claim copyright ownership. Therefore, the monkey selfie was ineligible for copyright–and in the public domain.

Slater had been preparing to sue Wikimedia Commons, according to a report earlier this month in The Telegraph. According to, Slater may be able to claim intellectual property rights under a provision of UK law, though that provision has never been tested in court.

That Monkey Selfie: Who Owns the Copyright To It?

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4 Responses to “Monkey Selfie Not Eligible for Copyright Registration Under New Rules”

  1. Monkey Selfie Not Eligible for Copyright Registration Under New Rules – The Click Says:

    […] Monkey Selfie Not Eligible for Copyright Registration Under New Rules […]

  2. Leslie Fuquinay Miller Says:

    Think of all the implications! Does this mean it’s no longer true that any monkey with a camera can be a professional photographer?

  3. Eric S. Says:

    My challenge would be to replicate the photo? It was David Slaters equipment, his set-up, his location and timing, potentially the settings. I find this ruling difficult to swallow. I know I wouldn’t stand a chance trying to duplicate this image. I haven’t read the mountain of paper this ruling created but does this mean any shot generated by the actions of mother nature, removes the authors rights having set up the opportunity to capture the image. I am thinking shutter triggers… I regret that David shared the story of the clever primate thief, it is truly a once in a lifetime photo and it deserves it’s human author his credit and remunerations due. If it is good enough to ‘steal’ then it’s worthy of remuneration. Does this extend to mean that the Monsanto ‘found in the ground’ biological patents are up for overturning as well. Mother nature created most of those? Disappointing.

  4. Charlie Morey Says:

    Wow. The copyright issue just entered a whole new realm of insanity. What in the world happened? Used to be simple. You made it; you own it. End of story.

    Shall we go a step crazier? The monkey STOLE the camera, so any images it made must be ILLEGAL and certainly not its property. Seems the victim (the equipment owning photographer) should benefit by getting to keep any of value… 😉