23 November 2015Copyright

WIPR survey: No room for monkey business in copyright law

Monkeys should not be able to own the copyright to a creative work, a vast majority of WIPR readers have said.

Last week, we asked readers whether an animal should be able to claim copyright ownership in the wake of UK photographer David Slater’s motion to dismiss a complaint filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Responding to our most recent survey, 93% of people stated there should be no monkey business when it comes to copyright law.

PETA has claimed that the rights to the image, dubbed the ‘monkey selfie’, belong to Naruto, a macaque ape based in Indonesia.

The photograph was taken during an excursion by Slater in Indonesia in 2011. He has publicly admitted that Naruto took a number of photographs without his interference, including the ‘monkey selfie’.

Slater included the ‘monkey selfie’ in his 2014 book “Wildlife Personalities”. PETA sued Slater in September arguing that the use of the photograph in the book is infringing and that all royalties should be directed to Naruto.

One respondent said: “An animal is not a legally cognisable person that can utilise, protect or determine how it wants to use any potential intellectual property rights.”

Another said such a question points to the fundamental purpose of copyright law.

“Copyright is designed to protect the skill and labour of an author ... Copyright is a creature of statute, not common law, and the extent of the legal protection is confined to those matters canvassed or anticipated in statutes.”

One user described PETA’s actions as “silly”, while another raised the question of whether the monkey asked for permission to use the camera. “If not, then the property remains with the owner of the camera equipment, as there was most likely no change in any of the camera settings.”

Sarcastically, one user argued that if animals can own the copyright to a work then they should also “inherit all of our human rights, including the right to vote and the right to bear arms”.

This week, WIPR  asks: "BMW and Cisco have helped to form a group called the Fair Standards Alliance in order to promote FRAND licensing. The group says "FRAND" must have a clearer meaning to allow standards to foster innovation. Do you agree?"

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