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PETA makes "monkey selfie" a three-way copyright battle; Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

A Wikimania 2014 attendee

The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a lawsuit in United States District Court on September 22 over the copyright to the monkey selfies, a group of photographs taken in 2011 by an Indonesian Celebes crested macaque using equipment set up by wildlife photographer David Slater. Slater claimed copyright over the photographs and demanded their removal from Wikimedia Commons, but the Wikimedia Foundation refused on the grounds that the photographs could not be copyrighted because they were not taken by a human being, a position later concurred with by others, including the United States Copyright Office. The matter received significant media attention following the release of last year's WMF transparency report (see previous Signpost coverage) and the photos were enthusiastically embraced by many Wikimedians, even becoming a sort of unofficial symbol of Wikimania 2014.

Wikimedia is not mentioned in PETA's lawsuit. Instead, PETA is suing Slater, his company, and his publisher, on behalf of the monkey, who they identify as Naruto. According to PETA "The lawsuit seeks to have Naruto declared the 'author' and owner of his photograph. Our argument is simple: U.S. copyright law doesn’t prohibit an animal from owning a copyright, and since Naruto took the photo, he owns the copyright, as any human would." PETA would administer the copyright and use the proceeds for the benefit of Naruto and the macaque habitat.

Legal experts are divided on the merits of the case. David Favre of Michigan State University told the Associated Press "They have a fair argument, but I would have to say it is an uphill battle." Laurence Tribe of Harvard University disagreed, telling the AP "It trivializes the terrible problems of needless animal slaughter and avoidable animal exploitation worldwide for lawyers to focus so much energy and ingenuity on whether monkeys own the copyright in selfies taken under these contrived circumstances."

No one ever asked my opinion.

Slater told CNet:

According to BBC News, Slater argues that it took "much time and more perseverance" to obtain the famous shot:


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Edward Zalta at Wikimania 2015

Nikhil Sonnad, writing for Quartz, reports (Sept. 21) on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy in an article titled "This free online encyclopedia has achieved what Wikipedia can only dream of".

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy today contains close to 1,500 entries (less than 1/3,000 of Wikipedia) and is updated continuously. Unlike Wikipedia, however, its articles are full treatments of their topics, written by experts. The Encyclopedia enjoys an excellent reputation, and has become an important resource for students, instructors and scholars as well as the general public.

The Encyclopedia was begun in 1995 by Edward Zalta of Stanford's Center for the Study of Language and Information, who earlier this year gave a presentation at Wikimania 2015: "The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Issues Faced by Academic Reference Works That May Be of Interest to Wikipedians". AK

What may be history's first photobomb was found in this 1853 photograph in the National Library of Wales

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Way to go, Vox. While not a copy-paste job you still managed to remake a story you linked to later in your work. Now this makes me wonder if this Phil Edwards frequents Wikipedia or be an editor here even. GamerPro64 21:33, 25 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

  • Not sure what the issue is with Phil Edwards story here. While it is frustrating as a researcher to have to chase stories back through a bunch of "re-bloggers", there is nothing wrong with the repetition of a story from another source. Indeed newspapers have traditionally relied on specialist press as a source for stories. Edwards gives credit to Ed's blog, which is really all we can ask for. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 22:09, 25 September 2015 (UTC).[reply]


As a professional photographer and animal rights activist I was intrigued by the "monkey selfies" article. I wrote a response discussing my perspective on the legal and ethical issues. Funcrunch (talk) 23:44, 25 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

PETA is actually big into the anti-factory farming chickens, cows and pigs (not sure about fishes - who will speak for the fish). -- GreenC 02:26, 26 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I'm against all animal farming, not just "factory" farming. Regardless, PETA's messaging is very inconsistent, tailored to whoever will give them the most money. Funcrunch (talk) 03:17, 26 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Here's a detailed legal analysis of the claims. It stresses some complicated points of law regarding jurisdiction -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 14:31, 29 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Google results

I for one wish Google would downplay Wikipedia in its search results, particularly with pages that are not high-trafficked or whose high-traffic appears to be the results of someone gaming the system. I could also accept search engines giving a boost to articles that, over time, maintain "important topic" and/or "Featured/Good/A-class" or possibly even "B-class" status over several months, as long as there is no sign of the article being hijacked by editors engaged in "search engine optimization" tactics. Take away the "Wikipedia Search-engine-optimization bonus" and commercially-motivated Wikipedia-SEO abuse will be less attractive. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 16:12, 10 October 2015 (UTC)[reply]


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