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The Sad Story Of The Photographer Who ‘Owns’ The Famous Selfie Monkey Photo, But Lost It All

Story from: 2oceansvibe.com

Monkey see monkey do, so of course they were going to start taking selfies soon enough.

That photo above is one of the more famous selfies out there, and we’ll have to head back to 2011 to hear that story.

Photographer David Slater travelled to Sulawesi, Indonesia, and spent a few days snapping photos of a troop of crested black macaques.

He claims that the selfie photographs weren’t just a fluke, but rather “required a lot of knowledge on [his] behalf, a lot of perseverance, sweat and anguish and all that stuff”.

Initially things went well, and he earned a few thousand dollars off the back of the snaps, but then it all unravelled. This from the Guardian:

…the images became the subject of complicated legal dispute in 2014, when Slater asked the blog Techdirt and Wikipedia to stop using them without permission.

The websites refused, with Wikipedia claiming that the photograph was uncopyrightable because the monkey was the actual creator of the image. The US Copyright Office subsequently ruled that animals cannot own copyrights.

Then in 2015, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) filed a suit against Slater on behalf of the macaque, which it identified as a six-year-old male named Naruto, claiming that the animal was the rightful owner of the copyright. A judge ruled against Peta in 2016, saying that animals were not covered by the Copyright Act. Peta appealed to the ninth circuit court of appeals, which heard oral arguments on Wednesday.

Here’s the kicker – Slater couldn’t even afford the air fare to make it to San Francisco and the latest court case. In fact, it’s all gone rather awry:

Nor can he afford to replace his broken camera equipment, or pay the attorney who has been defending him since the crested black macaque sued him in 2015, and is exploring other ways to earn an income.

“I’m trying to become a tennis coach,” Slater said by phone on Wednesday from his home in Chepstow, Wales. “I’m even thinking about doing dog walking. I don’t make enough money to pay income tax.”

Making a living as a freelancer is tough for any photographer, but for Slater, economic stability was once tantalizingly [sic] within reach…

Instead, Slater has been embroiled in years of arcane legal wrangling over the nature of authorship and said that he is “seriously on the verge of packing it all in”

One final kick in the nutsack – the lawyer for Slater’s publisher, who are also involved in the case, aren’t even sure whether PETA has identified the right monkey – something that Slater also disputes.

“I know for a fact that [the monkey in the photograph] is a female and it’s the wrong age,” he said. “I’m bewildered at the American court system. Surely it matters that the right monkey is suing me.”

Maybe PETA should consider the fact that Slater’s photos have helped the survival chances of the species, or perhaps they should focus their energy on the many worthwhile causes they champion.

Anyway, the most important lesson to take away from this is that selfies are a bad idea.


This post is from 2oceansvibe.com. Click here to read the full text

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