Just as the monkey photography story was dying down, a new twist emerges: on Monday tech blog TechDirt received an email from Caters News, the agency representing wildlife photographer David Slater, whose camera was hijacked by a monkey and used to shoot a number of self-portraits.
The email requested that the blog remove the images:
I have noticed you have used David Slater’s images on your website. However we are representing David Slater and syndicating these images on his behalf.
[...] These images are being used without David’s or our permission, therefore can I ask you remove these images from your site immediately.
Techdirt’s original post was focused on whether or not Slater owned the copyright to photographs taken by a monkey. Since the email did not address this, they emailed back asking for clarification. Here’s the news agency’s response:
Michael, regardless of the issue of who does and doesn’t own the copyright – it is 100% clear that the copyright owner is not yourself.
You have blatantly ‘lifted’ these photographs from somewhere – I presume the Daily Mail online. On the presumption that you do not like to encourage copyright theft (regardless of who owns it) then please remove the photographs.
Mike Masnick of TechDirt, the author of the posts, writes,
If I’m reading this correctly — and I believe that I am — Caters News Agency is claiming that anyone, copyright holder or not, can issue a takedown on a photo, if they can claim that the person using the image is not the copyright holder either — regardless of whether “fair use” applies. That’s… an interesting interpretation of the law. It’s also not a valid interpretation of the law. In fact, in some places, sending a takedown notice, if you are not the copyright holder, is what’s actually against the law. It’s absolutely true that we are not the copyright holder, but as I made clear in my email, that does not matter, as we believe that our use qualifies as fair use. The whole point of fair use is, in fact, to allow those who are not the holders of the copyright to make use of the work in some cases, so it seems odd that Caters would imply no such thing exists.
We also published a few of the monkey’s photos here on PetaPixel, so we’re very interested in seeing how this plays out. It’ll go a long way toward answering the question: “Can monkeys own rights to photos?“.