Monkey Selfie Photographer Close To 'Packing It All In' After Expensive Legal Battles

David Slater / Unidentified macaque

It's been a rough few years for photographer David Slater, the disputed owner of those monkey selfies from 2011. Slater found himself in an interesting legal quandary after his ownership of the famous photos was disputed by the likes of PETA and even Wikipedia. Now, Slater is apparently struggling financially, the costs of the ongoing court battles all but draining his coffers.

In an article by The Guardian's Julia Carrie Wong, Slater explains the troubles the fateful shots have brought him:

"Every photographer dreams of a photograph like this ... If everybody gave me a pound for every time they used [the photograph], I’d probably have £40m in my pocket." ... Instead, he is struggling to get by. “I’m trying to become a tennis coach,” Slater said by phone on Wednesday from his home in Chepstow, Wales. “I’m even thinking about doing dog walking. I don’t make enough money to pay income tax.”

It gets even more ridiculous when you consider that PETA, which believes it knows the identity of the macaque, might have mixed up its primates:

“I know for a fact that [the monkey in the photograph] is a female and it’s the wrong age,” [Slater] said. “I’m bewildered at the American court system. Surely it matters that the right monkey is suing me.”

He goes on to says that he's "seriously on the verge of packing it all in". After six years of it, I can't say I blame him.

[The Guardian]



    did he release the photo into the world without copyrighting it first or something?
    surely there was something he should have initially done to save himself from all of this.

      The argument from PETA's standpoint is that he didn't take the photo and so the photo doesn't belong to him and so he shouldn't be allowed to make money from it.

      The thing is, If you're a photographer working FOR an magazine or such, and the publisher buys you your camera gear, THEY own the photos you take with the gear. Ergo, the owner of the camera should have ownership of the photos taken with the camera. If the monkey had bought it's own camera and taken photos, it would be a different story.

      The other tack is that the monkey stole the camera, could the monkey be sued for any damage done to the camera while it illegally possessed it? If the answer is "no it's just a monkey" then the response to "does the monkey own the photos" is no, it's just a monkey.

        I'd have tried the tack, "did the monkey authorise your use of the image on the website?" If the answer is no then they're not allowed to use it. Scorched earth approach "If I'm not allowed to use it neither are you".

    I think he could have saved himself a lot of trouble by not stopping people/organisations like wikipedia using the image while continuing to sell the image himself. Would he have made 40 million? No, but he'd have still made money and not wound up spending heaps of money fighting in court.

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