Professor Bartow Copyright Display Has Case Descriptions

If you have been around the IP Library you may have seen us experimenting with cases and wall displays of as collection of exhibit type items based on famous copyright cases. The items in the newly installed case and nearby walls are called the Bartow Copyright Collection that compliment the Blair Patent Model Collection and the Baer: Videogames From Inception to Litigation Permanent Display.

The featured item of the week is Monkey Selfie.

The legal saga of the monkey selfie continues:  In January 2016 a federal judge said the macaque who famously snapped a picture of himself cannot be declared the owner of the image's copyright. At least until Congress says otherwise, there's "no indication" that the Copyright Act extends to animals, U.S. District Judge William Orrick wrote in a tentative opinion issued Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco. "I'm not the person to weigh into this. This is an issue for Congress and the president," Orrick said from the bench, "If they think animals should have the right of copyright they're free, I think, under the Constitution, to do that." The photo in question was taken in 2011 on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, with a camera owned by nature photographer David Slater. But Slater didn't trip the shutter: the macaque did.

As a result, some outlets maintain that no one owns the copyright to the photo and have been using it as an image in the public domain. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of the monkey — which it calls Naruto — arguing that, in fact, Naruto owns the copyright (which PETA is offering to administer on the monkey's behalf). The U.S. Copyright Office, since the dispute began, has specifically listed "a photograph taken by a monkey" as an example of an item that cannot be copyrighted. Slater, meanwhile, has a British copyright for the photo, which he says should be honored worldwide, The Associated Press reports. He asked the court to dismiss PETA's claim.

"The only pertinent fact in this case is that Plaintiff is a monkey suing for copyright infringement," Slater's lawyer wrote. "[i]magining a monkey as the copyright 'author' in Title 17 of the United States Code is a farcical journey Dr. Seuss might have written."