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Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber. Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet. Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little. I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

COPYRIGHT versus COPYWRONG (©Paws Here Productions)

©2014 PawsHere Productions, just in case

"Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet."
                                Mark Twain

You may remember the news story of a couple months ago in which photographer David Slater was seeking copyright protection for an image — a so-called “Monkey Selfie” — which had been taken by the macaque in question. A selfie. 

The Captain of the boat owns this family's shot
The photographer, on a shoot in Indonesia, had befriended the macaque troop and deliberately set out to get them to take pictures of themselves. He set up the camera, and essentially put the trigger button into the hands of his subjects, and let them shoot away. Kind of an interesting project.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, greedy humans got involved. Through a series of events, some of the photographs ended up on Wikipedia and elsewhere. When advised of the ownership, those sites refused to take the pictures down, citing the belief that the macaques, not the photographer, owned the copyright.

Absurd, right?

But not so much for the U.S. Copyright Office, who found that Slater did not, indeed, own the shots, despite the fact they had been set up by him and created using his equipment — at his own instigation. And the macaque, by virtue of not being a human being, could not own them either. Ipso facto: public domain.

Doubly absurd.
Do they know this guy? He owns their picture

Think about the ramifications of the judge’s decision for a moment. Let’s leave aside the question of credit and/or compensation. Photographs — and other art forms — are routinely stolen on the internet, by people who just don’t give a damn about who they might hurt, as long as they’re getting free stuff or the use of works they have no right to use. The fact it eats into someone else’s lunch is irrelevant to them.

But let’s put those people to the side.

What about your own photographs? Family pictures. Vacation shots.

Have you ever handed your camera to someone else and asked them to take a photo of you and your family? Your children included?

Who owns those photographs? Not you, according to the U.S. Copyright office. Either nobody does, or the person who took the image does. But not you.

From the ruling: 
Who owns what, here? Not the happy couple.

"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.
• A photograph taken by a monkey.
• A mural painted by an elephant.
• A claim based on the appearance of actual animal skin.
• A claim based on driftwood that has been shaped and smoothed by
the ocean.
• A claim based on cut marks, defects, and other qualities found in
natural stone."

Oh, and those paintings done by cats? Public domain.

Slater was ripped off, aided and abetted by the very people who are supposed to protect him. Protect me. And you, and you and you. But the internet chooses to differ, and loopholes such as these will continue to be exploited until the entitled among us get their paws on everything without paying for it.

So hide the pictures of you and your family you asked someone else to take, and don't post them online. They just might come back and bite you in the end.

Just saying’.

The photos on this page? Other than the macaque, they’re all copyrighted by me. I made them. Unlike the poor subjects who think they own these vacation photos…it’s the guy with the camera, apparently. But I own the pictures of the people taking the pictures. 


©2014 PawsHere Productions.

I can use this picture. The macaque can't own the photo, and neither does the photographer according to Wikipedia

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