Wikipedia has also hinted that it does not fear any legal action that the photographer may take against the online encyclopedia.
In an interview with Amateur Photographer (AP) yesterday,
photographer David Slater insisted he holds copyright, in the same way that a wildlife
photographer would own an image when an animal fires the shutter
remotely by crossing an infrared beam set up for that purpose.
In a statement, the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, said: ‘We were approached by the photographer in question. He asserted copyright over the monkey images, and requested we take them down. We take these requests very seriously and we thoroughly researched both sides of the claim.
‘In the end, we didn’t agree that the photographer in question has copyright over the images. However, that doesn’t mean the monkey owns the copyright. Instead, our assessment was that there’s no-one who owns the copyright.’
Referring to ‘US law’, Wikimedia insists that the image ‘falls into the public domain’ because the animal ‘took the picture’ and copyright ‘cannot vest in non-human authors’.
The statement adds: ‘At the heart of the matter is that sometimes, something fantastic – an idea, image, or innovation – can happen and it doesn’t have to have an owner. Some things, like this picture, belong to everyone.’
In justifying its refusal to bow to Slater’s demand to remove the image, Wikimedia claimed that the photographer had left the camera ‘unattended in a national park’.
‘A female crested black macaque monkey got hold of the camera and took a series of pictures, including some self-portraits.’
AP asked Wikimedia if it is concerned about facing a potential lawsuit over the matter.
A spokesperson for Wikimedia, which is based in San Francisco, replied: ‘As for legal action, we‘re very comfortable in our assessment of the situation.’