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Monkeys, ghosts and gods cannot be copyright holders

Monkeys, ghosts and gods cannot be copyright holders
Fri Aug 22 2014, 13:24
Monkeys cannot be copyright holders

THE UNITED STATES Copyright Office (USCO) has decided whether a monkey can own the right to a photo that it has taken, and decided that it chimpancan't.

The USCO said that a monkey cannot be registered as the owner of copyrighted content, in an update to its rules on the subject.

In case any are reading, the same rules also apply to ghosts and gods, so if any ethereal selfie takers or diva deities are thinking of trying to grab the rights to their images they can get back to clanking chains and being worshipped.

"The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals or plants," wrote the USCO in a recent update (PDF).

"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."

The question of whether a monkey can be a copyright owner came up earlier this summer when it was revealed that a macaque had "borrowed" photographer David Slater's camera in 2011 and taken a dandy snap of itself.

Wikipedia recently reported that Slater had made claim to the photo and had requested that it no longer be shared freely in the public domain. Wikimedia, which had shared the image through its Commons pages, baulked at this, and revealed the issue in its transparency report.

Thanks to the USCO and its special mention of simians, the beaming monkey photo will stay where it is.

In its information on the relevant webpage Wikipedia acknowledges this, saying that the image is in the public domain because "a monkey cannot hold a copyright", and it adds that the image is "kinda cute". µ


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