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Monkey selfie centre of copyright battle with Wikipedia

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, August 7, 2014, 5:11 PM - In 2011 photographer David Slater of Gloucestershire, England traveled to an Indonesian jungle to capture photographs of the rare crested black macaque monkey.

During the expedition a curious girl grabbed his camera and snapped hundreds of pictures.

Some of them eventually made their way online and onto Wikipedia's Wikimedia Commons, an online archive of free images in the public domain.

One of the photos, dubbed the "monkey selfie", is so popular it has been nominated as one of the commons' best images.

Slater isn't impressed with the free publicity the photos are receiving and is trying to get them removed from Wikipedia, arguing that he owns the copyright to the popular selfie even though he didn't take it.

He says he invested a substantial amount of money in the form of equipment and travel and deserves to be compensated.

Wikipedia disagrees.

The website says the photo doesn't belong to anybody because the monkey took the photos, and monkeys can't own copyright.

RELATED: Meet the monkey that can light fires and roast marshmallows

“It’s clear the monkey was the photographer,” Wikipedia spokesperson Katherine Mahler told the Toronto Star via email.

“We didn’t think the monkey owned the copyright. Instead, our assessment was that there’s no one who owns the copyright. That means that the image falls into the public domain.”

Slater says he has repeatedly asked Wikipedia to remove the photos and is threatening to take legal action if it fails to do so.

In the meantime, the images appear to have fallen victim to the 'Streisand effect', whereby an attempt to censor an image or video is widely reported upon, generating a tidal wave of publicity.

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