The US Copyright Office has settled a long-standing dispute between photographer David Slater and Wikimedia declaring the monkey selfie as a public property.
The US regulators have ruled that the selfie taken by a macaque monkey in Indonesia using photographer David Slater's camera cannot be copyrighted. The ruling comes in response to a suit filed by Slater claiming Wikimedia used the monkey selfie without his consent and sought over $16,500 (£10,000) in damages. But the US Copyright Office dismissed the case and ruled the image is in the public domain for usage everywhere.
The monkey selfie was snapped in 2011, when Slater was on an expedition in Indonesia. He claimed the monkey swiped his DSLR and snapped the photo so he owned the copyright. But Wikipedia used the picture in its open-source common section, accessible to the general public, which struck a legal dispute between the information bank and the photographer.
Slater claims the usage of the image by Wikipedia cost him a fortune as the interest for buying the image was lost after it appeared on an open-source network. According to a report by Independent, Slater made about $3000 (£2,000) for the image in its first year. Slater's claims for ownership come as a result of his hard work done prior to animal swiping his camera.
"I set the camera up on a tripod, framed [the shot] up and got the exposure right... and all you've got to do is give the monkey the button to press and lo and behold you got the picture," Slater told BBC.
The US regulators ruled the case in Wikipedia's favor, stating the image cannot be copyrighted as per its updated regulations.
According to the Tech Digest, the Copyright Office 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(ies) state that the work was inspired by a divine spirit," the draft report titled 'Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition' further added.
Now with this ruling, the case if formally settled and the monkey selfie is available for free use.