Can A Monkey License Its Copyrights To A News Agency?

In a story we brought you last week, a monkey grabbed photographer David Slater's camera and took several pictures, including this one of himself. This picture doesn't have a copyright notice, but two other pictures at Mail Online have a watermark from Caters News Agency. Techdirt finds that a little strange.
So here's the legal question: how did the copyright get assigned to Caters? I can't see how there's been a legal transfer. The monkeys were unlikely to have sold or licensed the work. I'm assuming that it's likely that the photographer, Slater, probably submitted the photos to the agency, and from a common sense view of things, that would make perfect sense. But from a letter-of-the-law view of things, Slater almost certainly does not hold the copyrights on those images, and has no legal right to then sell, license or assign them to Caters.

I don't think anyone is worrying about the monkey filing an infringement suit, but it is an interesting question. Link -Thanks, Marilyn!

Update: Caters News Agency contacted Techdirt, and asked them to take down the two pictures. Someone in the comments offered to pay for the monkey pictures with a picture of a spider. Link -Thanks, wernerna!

(Image credit: an unnamed Indonesian Macaque)

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It's not just academic either. Techdirt has been contacted by a law firm with a take-down notice. More proof that the US's intellectual property laws are out of control.
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If you are a young architect working for a large architectural firm, any work you design becomes property of the firm. If you are a photographer working specifically for a large company, your work belongs to the company, right?

As an unpaid intern, whatever work you do in the service of that company does not remain your property, but the property of the company you are working for, right?

So the animals snapping the photos with equipment that belongs to someone else, I guess the copyright remains with the company that made it all possible.
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