A photo taken in 2011 of a monkey grinning for the camera recently published by Wikipedia has sparked an interesting copyright debate. Although British photographer, David Slater, didn’t technically take the picture (the monkey did!) he does maintain that the picture is his property and that Wikipedia had no right to publish it. The publication of the picture by Wikipedia has apparently cost the photographer thousands of dollars in lost earnings.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia that anyone can edit, only publish photos that are in the public domain as it is "a record of human knowledge, viewpoints and summaries that already exist and are expressed elsewhere". The photographer, spent time in Indonesia, followed the monkeys and set up the shot carefully so that the monkey could press the button and capture the picture. A spokesperson for Wikipedia has commented that nobody in fact owns the copyright as it can’t belong to the monkey and it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.
There exists in the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 the general principle that the "author" means "the person who creates the work" and that the copyright owner of a photograph is the photographer. This designation is not exhaustive and it would seem feasible in this instance that the extensive contribution of the photographer in the jungle in Indonesia makes him central to the claim of ownership.
Either way the monkey looks very pleased with his work.