Monkey selfie photographer to provide students with cautionary tale of copyright

Date 5.02.2018

The photographer embroiled in a copyright battle over a monkey selfie will be talking about the high-profile case at the University of Northampton.

The self-portrait image of a crested black macaque went viral in 2011, after David Slater let a troop of the monkeys experiment with his camera.

However, the image became the subject of a complicated legal dispute in 2014, when David requested Wikipedia remove the image, as it did not have permission.

The website refused, and claimed that the photograph was not subject to copyright, because the monkey created the image. The US Copyright Office then ruled that animals cannot own copyrights.

You can view the photo on David’s website.

The legal wrangle continues to this day, and David will talk about the episode when he visits students on Wednesday 7 February.

David’s appearance is just one of a series of special events lined up by the Photography department during Changing Futures Week – a five-day University wide showcase of industry speakers.

Photography Programme Leader, Richard Whitehead, said: “We are incredibly excited to be able to welcome David to the University of Northampton.

“His story is an important one for our student photographers to hear, because it reminds them that there is so much more to professional photography than getting that perfect shot.

“To have a good eye and technical skills go a long way, but to be a success in the industry, photographers also need to be aware of copyright laws, permissions, ethics and business.”

While the legal arguments rage, some good has come out of the episode, with an article in the National Geographic stating that crested black macaques, which are in urgent need of conservation, might “still be languishing in obscurity” if it weren’t for the selfie.