Monkey Selfie Can’t Be Copyrighted

Much to the chagrin of ghosts, gods, animals, and plants, the U.S. Copyright Office has ruled that pieces of content produced by these entities cannot be copyrighted. “The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants,” wrote in a recent update. “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. That means the so-called monkey selfie—which came about when a crested black macaque on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi took photographer David Slater’s camera and snapped a photo of herself—also cannot be copyrighted. Slater had asked Wikimedia Commons, a free photo database, to remove the photo, claiming it was his. Wikimedia disagreed and so does the U.S. Copyright Office, apparently.