Monkey selfie is public domain

Picture thanks to Wiki Commons

Picture thanks to Wiki Commons

It looks like Wikipedia was right, and the “ape selfie” photo really is public domain.

The US Copyright Office has ruled  against David Slater the photographer, who has claimed ownership snap saying that images taken by animals, including the 2011 primate self-shot, could not be registered for copyright by a human.

“The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants,” the US copyright authority said.

While we can see that a camera could be struck by lightning and take a pic, we are not sure how a tree could take a picture, but it is clear that the USOP is covering all its bases here.  We notice that if a lump of a satellite falls on your camera and takes a picture that would technically be covered, because it is not nature.

However the copyright office will not register anything which is claimed to have been created by divine or supernatural beings, although the Office may register a work where the states that the work was inspired by a divine spirit.

So if I claim that my novel Sex Slaves of Babylon was inspired by the God Marduk it could be copyrighted, but if I claimed Marduk actually wrote it, then it could not be.

The copyright office specifically cites the monkey snap which has been the source of a legal battle between the Wikimedia Foundation and Slate when a macaque nicked his camera and pressed the shutter button a number of times.