A grizzly bear has been credited as the author of its own selfie after it found a GoPro in a pond, turned it on, and took a video.
YouTuber Tom Scott was filming a video about bear-resistant trash cans at the non-profit Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana when the bear made off with one of his GoPros.
The GoPro overheated in the hot sun and switched off. The bear then took the GoPro to a pond where he started playing with it before leaving it in the water.
Scott thought that would be the last of it, particularly since the battery drained. But he was wrong, the bear came back five hours later, fished the action camera out of the pond, and turned it back on — the camera had just enough juice to record a couple of minutes of bear selfies.
“[The bear] somehow managed to press the shutter button before dropping it back in the pond,” says Scott.
But the story still wasn’t done, another bear came to the pond a further four hours later, picked up the camera, turned it on, and captured a few seconds of footage just as the battery gave out.
Does the Bear Have Copyright to its Selfie?
“I’ve realized something. Those final shots, just the last two video files from in the pond that footage was entirely created by bears accidentally,” Scott says.
“I didn’t set up the camera, I didn’t start it rolling, I had zero input into that footage. So I’m pretty sure that for just those specific shots, just that final bit in the pond, I don’t have copyright over that, that’s public domain, the bear made that on its own.
“Which is frustrating because I think I could probably make a lot of money licensing that but instead I’ve uploaded the RAW files to the internet archive.”
True to his word, Scott uploaded the video files to the internet archive where they are free to download and are credited to “Grizzly bears.”
Whether Scott really doesn’t own the copyright to that footage is a difficult matter and reminiscent of the monkey selfie case which did result in a court ruling that U.S. copyright law does not allow animals to file copyright infringement lawsuits.
Despite the GoPro being chewed by at least one grizzly bear, it has actually survived — albeit with a cracked screen.