What started out as a silly selfie, turned into to a career crushing photo. This picture of the endangered crested black macaque was taken by British photographer David Slater. But apparently, he doesn’t have rights to his own photo.
The 52-year-old photographer from south Wales specializes in wildlife and conservation photography. Six years ago he was shooting this crested black macaque when the monkey started shooting himself. He claims that he has been left broke and penniless after years of legal wrangling over whether he owns the copyright of the picture or the macaque does.
Slater says that he could not even afford his flight to America for his court hearing on the case. Because of the debacle, he is considering quitting the photography business. He has thought of becoming a tennis coach or dog-walker instead.
He then went on to say, “I am just not motivated to go out and take photos any more. I’ve had outlays of several thousand pounds for lawyers, it is losing me income and getting me so depressed. When I think about the whole situation I really don’t think it’s worth it.”
Although the picture went viral and is famous all over the world, it doesn’t look like Slater is really reaping any benefits. He says that his income is around £100 every few months from the image sales. But a monkey took a selfie! Can we talk about that again?
In 2011, Slater traveled to Sulawesi, Indonesia and spent a week photographing macaques. During one of the shoots, he mounted the camera on his tripod and he slowly and gently encouraged them to press the shutter and take pictures of themselves! He taught them how to selfie.
Then in 2014, he asked Wikipedia to take down the picture after they published it without his permission. They refused and said that the copyright belonged to the monkey. So Wikipedia started this whole thing!
The US Copyright Office ruled that animals cannot own copyright but then People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) stepped in. They sued Mr Slater in 2015. This is all over a selfie taken by a monkey. Everyone needs to calm down.
“Tourists are now visiting and people see there is a longer-term benefit to the community than just shooting a monkey.”
You know, this guy seems to have good intentions and just wants to be compensated for his work. What do you think? Maybe we should tell PETA to lighten up a little? Tell this monkey to lighten up a bit while you're at it!