Photo taken by monkey is not copyright protected

Written by Hannes Kreuzer
Published on August 24, 2014

Animal grabbed camera and took hundreds of perfect photos of itself.

There has been an interesting debate between a photographer and the organisation Wikipedia whether photos taken by a monkey are the photographers copyright and protected by law. US Copyright Office now declared that it cannot be copyrighted as it was created by an animal.

UK based photographer David Slater has been on a trip to Indonesia in 2011 and one of the monkeys grabbed his camera and took some pictures by itself. According to sources – hundreds. The outcome of this “artwork” is hilarious and the pictures started to make rounds on the internet including uploads on Wikipedia.

The photographer requested a take down following the argument the monkey used the photographers equipment. The organisation declied the request. So the debate came to the US Copyright Office and they made this case pretty clear.

An excerpt of the US Copyright Office’s 1.222 page report states:

The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants. Likewise, the Office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings, although the Office may register a work where the application or the deposit copy state that the work was inspired by a divine spirit.

As a result of this clarification the photo is now (and has always been) public domain, free to use by anyone, commercially and non-commercially.


  • Dan


  • Photog

    BOOM head shot! shots fired an down :( The world just lost one potential inspired photographer all on some bullshit copyright laws lol TBH i would argue that the US government, or copyright office for that matter can’t have say on what is or is not someones property. The man of which this monkey used his camera to take these shots COULD argue in court that he set the camera near the animal, knowing full well in advance that he would pick it up and “produce” images….. in a legal standpoint it IS entirely possible that he knew this could happen and had planned it all alone there for it could in fact still be copyright material. people create art using randomly generated algorithmic sequences on computers all the time… who is to say because the “artist” didn’t have direct input in the making of such art, that it dose NOT belong to him? hmm.. makes you think. There is an argument for both sides of the issue, but in the end, i would go with “yes’ it dose in fact belong to the photographer and no one else. or at the very least…. the “monkey” in this case should legally hold any copy rights to the use of said image ;)