IP Clinic Director Weighs in on Monkey Photo Copyright Claim

When Wikipedia printed a selfie taken by a macaque monkey that had grabbed a wildlife photographer’s camera, the man cried foul.

Photographer David Slater claimed that he owns the copyright, but Eve Brown, director of Suffolk Law’s Intellectual Property & Entrepreneurship Clinic offers a different opinion in the Fast Company article “We Asked a Bunch of Lawyers: Who Owns the Copyright to this Amazing Monkey Selfie?”

Brown is quoted thus: "Other than bringing the camera into the vicinity, he didn’t add any of his own original creativity to the end result. Even if he did contribute original creativity to the photo, he would merely be a joint author with the shutter clicker (in this case, the macaque). In order to establish joint authorship, you need to show that the parties intended to be co-authors, meaning that it was their plan to merge their individual contributions into an interdependent part of a unitary whole. Usually this intent is shown with an advance written agreement, which I'm guessing Slater didn’t have with the monkey."

Brown and Suffolk Law Professor Jessica Silbey weighed in on ownership of another selfie that went viral earlier this year: the Ellen DeGeneres-Bradley Cooper Oscar photo.

Full Fast Company article

Oscar photo face-off