Copyright Office Won't Monkey Around
By admin on Sep 9, 2014 | In Visual Arts
You may have heard that the U.S. Copyright Office has laid down the law, as it sees it, regarding the copyrightability of a photograph taken by a monkey. The office says it won't register a copyright in a work created by anyone who isn't a human.
In its latest Compendium on copyright, the office states that only human beings can be the creators of copyrightable works, and it "will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants." You can read the official language in Section 306 of the Compendium.
This, of course, was all prompted by the battle waged by a photographer whose camera was swiped by a monkey that then went about snapping a bunch of photos, including some "selfies" that went viral on the Internet. The photographer objected to the images being published on the web without his permission (or a fee being paid to him), and litigation was possible.
However, if the Copyright Office says only a human can obtain a copyright -- and it cites two 19th century cases as precedent for the justification of that contention -- then it would appear the monkey photos are in the public domain.
Oh, and one other thing the Copyright Office says it won't register art "purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings." So no gods, ghosts, or witches need apply.
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