You’ve probably seen the image above numerous times before, but you might not know the full story behind this infamous image.
It’s commonly referred to as the “Monkey Selfie” and as a stand-alone image, it has to rank as one of the most heart-warming images in existence.
The reason it’s infamous is down to copyright law. The smiling monkey took the selfie, but the camera he used belonged to British nature photographer, David Slater.
Slater set up his camera equipment in a remote location in Indonesia and deliberately left the remote trigger accessible to the Celebes crested macaques. The animals caught on quickly, but one specific macaques put on his best smile and snapped what might just be the best selfie ever. This also ignited a copyright battle that would last for roughly two years.
Slater claimed that the image belonged to him, but a few scientists, organisations and NGOs claimed that the monkey was the rightful owner of the image.
After PETA dragged the matter to court, it was ruled that animals are not subject to copyright law, which means the ownership reverted back to Slater in early 2016. He then stated his intention to sue Wikipedia for using the image, and after that the story basically went cold.
This week the Monkey Selfie reappeared again on stock photography websites with a Creative Commons license. This means the owner (Slater) has given permission to share and publish this photograph for free.