A UK photographer embroiled in an image rights row with Wikipedia over a now famous monkey photo has voiced fears that online copyright abuse is set to escalate

David Slater last year accused Wikipedia of breaching copyright over an image of a black macaque monkey and publishing it online without permission.

The online encyclopedia argued that it was in the public domain because the monkey fired the shutter during the shoot in an Indonesian jungle.

But Slater, who lives in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, insisted he held copyright in the same way a wildlife photographer would own an image when an animal fires the shutter remotely by crossing an infrared beam set up for that purpose.

Slater today told Amateur Photographer that he continues to fight for rights over the image and is still in talks with UK lawyers about possible legal action.

‘Trust me, I am trying my best to pursue this matter, if not for me then for the benefit of the photographic community,’ said Slater.

He claimed: ‘One thing seems certain – photographers will have their online images stolen often in the coming years.

‘If they fail to serve justice, high-profile cases like mine will only promote even more theft, especially from the US.’

Speaking in general terms, Slater accused the US of being ‘pro-money and pro-corporation’ and an ‘unjust safe harbour for rich image thieves’.

Slater said his lawyer has advised him to pursue any action against Wikipedia through a UK court, fearing that he would end up bankrupt if he fought the case in the US and it led to a lengthy legal battle.

The photographer tells AP he is first ‘working to pursue infringers in the UK’.

A spokesperson for the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, had yet to respond to a request for comment at the time of writing.

Last week, Amateur Photographer revealed how Disney was forced to pull a photo from one of its websites after it was accused of a copyright breach over an image that went viral during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

  • Slater should be able to litigate against Jimmy Wales, given that Wales has lived in the UK now for years, and he is the key principal of The People’s Operator, a UK corporation.