The Ninth Circuit recently ruled in its case concerning monkey selfie photographs.
As many remember, in 2011, while visiting an Indonesian rainforest, nature photographer David Slater left his camera unattended. According to Slater, a monkey known as Naruto, picked up Slater’s camera and took multiple “selfies”. The selfies went viral.
After Slater used the photographs in a book that he published, PETA sued Slater for infringing the monkey’s copyright. The questions became: Does PETA have standing to sue on behalf of Naruto? If so, is a monkey an author for purposes of the Copyright Act of 1976?
A friend recently called about a letter she had received claiming that she was infringing a photographer’s copyrights in an image she had used in her company’s website and social media sites. In addition to requiring that she cease use of the image, the letter demanded payment of several thousand dollars for the alleged unauthorized use of the photograph. My friend explained that the image was being used under a Creative Commons license, so she didn’t understand what basis there could be for the photographer’s infringement claim.
Copyright protects original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. 17 U.S.C. §102(a). “Originality” and “authorship” require independent creation and a modicum (i.e. minimal level) of creativity. “Fixation” requires that a work be fixed in a tangible format in which it can be perceived, reproduced or communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device — for example, a writing, recording, photo or video. Continue reading
It is hard to imagine a business that does not own or use an asset subject to copyright protection. Copyright protection extends to eight non-exclusive classes of works: literary works; musical works; dramatic works; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works. 17 U.S.C. §102(a). Continue reading