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Transcript

Friday, July 29, 2011

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

This is On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone.

BOB GARFIELD:

And I'm Bob Garfield with a few of your letters. A couple of weeks ago I spoke with Techdirt's Michael Masnick about a bizarre copyright issue that ensued after a monkey took a tourist's camera and photographed himself with it.

After posting the pictures, Masnick received a takedown notice, which seemed odd to him, since generally the copyright holder is whoever takes the shot. And that notice did not come from the monkey.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

We got a ton of mail on this. Ohan Karagosian [sp?] from New Haven, Connecticut wrote, quote, "I'm new to the game and I am just trying to get a handle on this. If the work that was created by the artist is the copyright of the artist, then what about the company the artist works for?

Susan Miller from Albany, California had an answer. She wrote, quote, "When working for a company an artist is doing work for hire and all the rights are retained by the company. Had the camera owner paid the monkeys with weekly bananas, he could have retained the rights to the monkey's self-portrait." She added, "I would like to see more of those photos. I think I recognized the one in the above photo as a former boyfriend in Cleveland."

BOB GARFIELD:

[LAUGHS] But Steve from Cuba, Illinois had a different question. He wrote, quote, "In a legal sense it may be that the copyright for the pictures belongs to whoever owns the monkeys.

If Mr. Masnick obtained a release to publish the monkey's photos from the director of the Department of the Interior, or a similar agency, in the home country of the monkeys, nobody else could prevail against that in court. It would be nice if the monkeys themselves could hold the rights, but this is a legal, not necessarily moral dispute."

BROOKE GLADSTONE:

We also heard from one writer who claims to be the monkey, whose name apparently is Jobar. He wrote that, quote, "While amused by your sophomoric discussion regarding copyright law, I must note that these photographs do not represent the whim or whimsy of mere monkeys, as some would believe, but rather a protracted artistic battle between id and super ego.” Okay. Thanks, Jobar.

Keep your letters coming to OntheMedia.org, and please tell us your name and where you're from and, when relevant, your species.

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