There’s is now a definite ruling on the copyright status of the monkey selfie you see pictured above. In a copyright dispute that stretches all the way back to 2011, Wikimedia has been proven correct in their belief that the photo isn’t bound by copyright law because it was taken by the monkey and monkeys have no copyright claim.
The U.S. Copyright office settled the debate between British photographer David Slater and Wikimedia by updating their rules to reflect any photos taken by animals in addition to a few other interesting things. From Mashable:
“The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals or plants,” the federal office, which operates under the Library of Congress, wrote in a recent update to its regulations. “Likewise, the office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings, although the office may register a work where the application or the deposit copy(ies) state that the work was inspired by a divine spirit.”
You can read the whole thing in PDF form here, but the money is in that quote. All those dog paintings and pieces of toast with Jesus on them are copyright free. It is a joyous decision that wasn’t a waste of time at all.
Still that only covers the United States. Slater’s equipment was still used to take the photo during his trip to Indonesia back in 2011 and other countries might see it differently. Until then though, The black macaque from the photo stole the equipment and got away with it. It’s no wonder it is smiling.