The Macaque owns the Copyright, Not you!

In this video, I am asking you whether the action of pressing the Shutter button on your camera makes you the Copyright owner. In today’s Telegraph newspaper there is an article about the very talented English photographer David Slater who went to Indonesia in 2011 in an attempt to make the perfect shot of the Crested Black Macaque. During the shoot, one of the macaques stole his camera and unwillingly pressed the Shutter button which resulted in hundreds of shots, most of which were rubbish but a handful were amazing as shown here. It turns out the few amazing shots ended up getting a worldwide attention (for a good reason there are uniquely creative) and got published on Wikipedia. Wikimedia which is the organisation in charge of the content library behind Wikipedia has never asked David Slater for his permission to use the photographs. David asked Wikipedia to remove the photos from the site but Wikimedia refused claiming he does not own the copyright for them, the macaque does since he/it is the one who took the selfies. While this is totally absurd, it raises an interesting question? Does the action of pressing the Shutter button makes the initiator the lawful copyright owner? As far as I am concerned, this is BS. As I often said in my videos and workshops, there is more to Photography than taking the shot. That is the least important action in the whole photographic process. David Slater spent thousands of British Pounds and time/effort in preparation for this shoot. It is disrespectful to degrade his work to the simple press of a button. This is not an extreme scenario as I do go through a similar scenario a couple of years ago. I had set up the light, the exposure setting, the focus, etc. For some reasons I have forgotten since, I had not used a remote control, nor a cable release nor a delayed trigger. I simply asked my very supportive wife to press the button. Her sole participation in the making of the shot was to press the button. Does she own the copyright? With all the love and respect I have for her, I don’t think so! So about David, if he brings it to court this could well end up costing him over £10k to get his right back. I am going to reach out to him to show him my support and maybe will be doing an interview if he’ll agree.

© 2020 Tom Migot Fine Art All rights reserved​

28 Grange Crescent West, Prestonpans EH329LU UK +44(0)7850 324 811 - [email protected]