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Tuesday, 18 July 2017


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The photographer owns the photos because he owns the camera. Just because the shutter was triggered by wild animals or other natural events doesn't mean he doesn't own the photo. If you put a camera on the ground, and then a fruit drops off a tree and lands on the shutter causing a photo to be taken, the guy who put the camera on the ground owns the photo and not the tree.

I hope the judge makes PETA pay his legal costs.

This demonstrates the danger of of publishing a book on Blurb. The guy in question is just some struggling middle-class guy who likes to take animal photos and not a rich and famous photographer with deep pockets.

The courts have already ruled that an Animal cannot own a copyright.
Without David and his cameras there would be no picture.
People have used remote triggers to photograph animals forever, it really is hog wash, very sad.

I imagine any nature photographer or film maker who has ever used an infra-red trap will now have their copyright forcibly removed? There's not just one, but many examples of household names whose assistants actually pressed the shutter button too. If ever there was a worthwhile cause for crowdfunding, David Slater's legal bill is it.

Under the "buy yourself something nice" category, what about a Nikon D750?

Legally, the famous photographer and his/her business would own the copyright because the assistants are employees. Their efforts at best would likely be considered "work for hire" under federal copyright law.

The "monkey business" case legally verges on harassment of the photographer, in my humble opinion, and arguably might be sanctionable against someone on the other side.

Regarding #2, you were talking about a work made for hire. Here are the rules: https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ09.pdf

I share your incredulity over the monkey photo. If I remember correctly, Gregory Crewdson (amongst others) directs and leaves others to actually press the shutter and no one has a problem with him being the owner of the photographs.

"This demonstrates the danger of publishing a book on Blurb."

Sorry, what exactly did I miss?

What if i borrow someone´s camera and take a photo of myself, does that mean the copyright belongs to the owner of the camera?

Another point to consider is, the fact that the monkey took the image made it more valuable. Otherwise it is just an image of a monkey.

How about a photo taken with a self-timer? Or a drone? Or triggered by a movement sensor? And so on?

If Caligula made a horse Senator, why can't a macaque hold copyrights?
And you forgot to mention Mr Slater was sued by PETA on behalf of the macaque. Monkey business indeed.

After one of corporate acquisitions I survived in the biotech world, we were, as employees of the new company, required to sign a document assiging any works or creation of "intellectual property" over to the company. A bunch of our scientists had extensive patent experience and in reading the document thoroughly, determined that the language of this document meant that the rights and copyrights to any creative or intellectual work was "owned" by the company. This meant that if you wrote a children's adventure book on your own time, the company legally owned the rights to it; of course, these scientists flat refused to sign it and it caused quite a brouhaha at the time. The initial response by the legal department to deal with this was requiring to you submit an affidavit for each and every creative work that was produced "outside" of work, stating that you "owned the copyright" to this work as such, and submit it to them for legal review/approval. Of course, this also applied to me as a motorsports photographer. I contacted the VP of Legal and asked if he really wanted me to submit for their review the 30,000 photographs that I shot over the course of a racing season (and owned the copyrights to acc. to US law) for their review? He said, "No, we absolutely do not want to do have to do that!" "Well, you better re-write it, then", I replied. So, they did. The new agreement was much narrower in scope so that it only applied to inventions/IP created in the course of working for the company and it's business/products.

Ya gotta watch those corporate attorneys at times...

Sorry, but I have to rant:

"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Do you recognize that? It is a quote from the Declaration of Independence, one of our founding documents. Did you notice the lack of any mention of monkeys? The laws governing copyright are part of the government of humans, created by humans for the regulation of human interaction. Monkeys are not bound (or granted intellectual property rights) by human law. The premise that a monkey could own the copyright is absurd to the point that I am amazed that our courts would even consider the case. I can only conclude that the court must be bored with the same old, same old and wanted something amusing as a diversion. It should have been dismissed in a pre-trial hearing. I won't even get into the question of whether PETA has standing to file the suit on behalf of a monkey in another country. Are they claiming to be related?

Aside from that, there is the matter of simple logic. Pressing the shutter release is only one aspect of creating a photograph. David Slater bought the camera, learned to use it, flew to where the monkeys were and prompted them to press the button while looking into the lens. The photo is the result of all *his* actions. The chances that the photo would exist at all without his actions are zero, zip, zilch, nada. The monkey is in no way the creator/author any more than a typist is the author of a novel that was dictated to him/her. To assign authorship based on what finger(s) touched the button (keys) is totally illogical. Again, I am astounded that a court would even agree to hear the case.

I feel so bad for David Slater. The people of PETA should be ashamed of themselves. This is a play for power and money. PETA's website states: "Proceeds from a successful claim would solely benefit Naruto and his community." It appears that the people at PETA have appointed their organization as the legal representative of Naruto, the macaque. I doubt that they have a contract to represent the macaque. Macaques are monkeys, and monkeys cannot be a signatory to a contract. Just like they cannot hold a copyright.
I hope the ninth circuit court of appeals not only rules against PETA's claim, but assigns legal costs and, if possible, penalties. I hope that David Slater wins, and collects money from Techdirt, Wikipedia, and others who violated his copyright.

I have a problem with THIS, Jackson Bart:

"The photographer owns the photos because he owns the camera."

If you leased your equipment or took a loan... does the photo belong to the bank? The camera does not belong to you in any case...?

But this is all crap! The bloody monkey can't own any copyright. The photo was made because the photographer was there with his camera. So inmy eyes it's his photo!

I can't understand how an image caused by an animal inadvertently triggering a shutter manually is different from a animal-caused photo via a motion sensor? There are thousands of the latter that have gone uncontested with regard to "ownership."

I shudder to think that shuttering the image can established ownership of said image.

Just my two bits on David Slater's image of the black macaque. First, ownership of the image and ownership of the copyright can be two different things. David is concerned financially with the copyright ownership.
Copyright, in my understanding, is not so much a right of ownership as it is a protection offered by a government with the expressed purpose of fostering creativity by making it possible for the creative person to benefit from their creation - exclusively - for a defined period of time. Copyright protection thereby encourages further creativity in society in general. Further, it is implied in the nature of copyright that the person (primate?) being protected must have the ability to make copies or else copyright is meaningless.
Further yet, since it is the creativity that copyright law is meant to protect and foster, it follows that the proper measure of copyright protection is when and where the creativity happened. In this case there was a whole chain of creative moments initiated and made to happen by David leading up to moment when the black masque accidentally pushed the shutter button with no creative intent, whatsoever.
Where, then, should copyright reside if it is to perform its function of encouraging creativity for the benefit of all society? Certainly not to a black macaque for whom copyright protection is meaningless. (There are better ways to protect black macaques, habitat protection being just one.) To connect copyright with the pushing of the shutter button in all cases is both silly and corrosive to the understanding of creativity in photography.

"if somebody (or something) else presses the shutter button, shhh! Don't finger yourself"

Actually, if he didn't mention that the ape took the photo, the photo wouldn't be worth anything.

I don't feel bad for him at all. He's an abuser of the Copyright laws and deserves what he gets for ensuring our tort system is as expensive as it is. There was no creative effort on his part for generating that photo, which is indeed on the public domain and not worth of copyright law protection.

Let's take this to the extreme, the copyright law is to protect artists to ensure that they continue to produce art. What's going to happen if the law doesn't protect photos taken accidentally by animals? Well, I guess there will be no more photographers allowing animals to snatch their cameras and accidentally take photos of themselves as there is no business in that ;)

P.S. As has been mentioned this is in no way similar to assistants taking photos under direction (contract law), or photographs with triggers (creative effort put into setup).

There are legal complexities.

Humans can, in their employment agreements, give up rights to photos taken in conjunction with their employment. Apes can't, not being legally competent, and in any case there was no employment agreement with this ape.

Now, with the ape not being competent, it seems like the human who set up the mechanism the ape triggered should reliably own the copyright. But lawyers love playing around with arcane points whose outcome doesn't affect them personally.

This always attaches in my head to Robert Heinlein's story "Jerry Was a Man", about the court case to get an "uplifted" ape declared legally human.

Regarding SNAFU there might be more to the story with pre-WWII telegraph maintenance workers: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/68954/researching-the-real-origin-of-snafu

as compared with https://www.wikiwand.com/en/SNAFU

Maybe The Shadow would know for sure.

I don't think this is as much "a money grab" by PETA, as a rather misguided attempt to further animal rights.

I used to be Larry Williams' assistant doing a lot of stuff for Rolling Stone and CBS Nashville. Often I would trip the shutter, focus and load while he moved the lights around because it's surprisingly hard to tell rockstars turn their head into the shadow.

Once we shot a cover for Charly McClain out in Montauk and after I spent an hour driving the car back and forth to get the blurred tail lights, and in fact all the lighting except for an on camera vivitar 283,

I shot off the end of the roll for clip tests (120 film so tails out) with Larry wrapping his arms around the artist. CBS liked the clip test so much that they used it for the back cover and changed the LP title to match it.

CBS wanted to give me a photo credit but they couldn't without paying* me so for the next few records the gave me an assistant credit which was pretty unusual at the time.

Photos "stolen" from ebay, but if they want to bug me about copyright......

*pay was terrible anyway but they would pay for anything you could get a receipt for within a week of the shoot

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