U.S. Copyright Office rules monkeys can’t copyright their selfies
The changes come in the wake of Wikimedia Commons’ controversial refusal to take down a self-portrait taken by an crested black macaque, an Indonesian monkey, that has since gone viral.
British wildlife photographer David Slater claimed copyright of the photo because the macaque had taken the photograph with one of his cameras while on a shoot in Indonesia in 2011. His request was denied; Wikimedia claimed U.S. law supported that “copyright cannot vest in non-human authors.”
Since the dispute, Slater has sought legal counsel and has claimed the photo has cost him thousands of dollars.
The new rules published Thursday now explicitly supports Wikimedia’s claim that works produced by “nature, animals or plants,” and any work created by “divine or supernatural beings” cannot claim copyright.
The rules continue to list examples such as:
- A photograph taken by a monkey.
- A mural painted by an elephant.
- A claim based on driftwood that has been shaped and smoothed by
- A claim based on cut marks, defects and other qualities found in
- An application for a song naming the Holy Spirit as the author of the
The draft will remain on review until mid-December when it will then be official law.