The Monkey Selfie Case: Will It Have Broader Repercussions for AI and Copyright?

Used with the permission of David J. Slater

I am sure that British wildlife photographer David Slater rues the day that he ever laid eyes on Naruto, the Indonesian macaque, whose “monkey selfie” photo made Slater famous, but also brought him no end of grief and financial hardship. Readers will recall that it all started back in 2011 when Slater, a reputed wildlife photographer, set up his equipment with a view to photographing the goings on of a group of macaques in Sulawesi. The resultant photos, physically taken by one or more of the macaques after Slater set up the camera equipment having noted their interest in it, were promoted by Slater’s agent as the “monkey selfie”. It was a good marketing ploy, and for a time Slater earned some handsome royalties, but it was also an unfortunate choice of words because some users, notably Wikipedia, used the description of the photo as a “selfie” to deny Slater’s copyright and proclaim the work to be in the public domain on the grounds that Slater had not “taken” the photograph, as is generally required by US law for a photography copyright to be valid. Continue reading “The Monkey Selfie Case: Will It Have Broader Repercussions for AI and Copyright?”

UNESCO’s Guidelines on Contemporary Culture in the Digital Environment: Worth Thinking About

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For some people, saying the word “UNESCO” is like waving a red flag in front of a charging bull. For others, like activists in my region who are seeking to have the Salish Sea (the body of water that straddles British Columbia and Washington State) declared a UNESCO world heritage site, it means getting additional protection for valuable natural heritage areas that are under environmental threat. UNESCO has many guises and is the epitome of the good, the bad and the ugly. First, the positive. Continue reading “UNESCO’s Guidelines on Contemporary Culture in the Digital Environment: Worth Thinking About”

Brexit and Copyright: What Happens Next?

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When British Prime Minister Theresa May introduced her new government’s proposed legislative agenda in Westminster on June 21, (through what is known as the “Queen’s Speech) after her disastrous gamble of calling a general election in which she failed to win a majority, one of the key items announced was her intention to introduce what has colloquially been called the “Great Repeal Bill”, legally the “European Union (Withdrawal) Bill”. Given the timetable for Britain’s exit from the EU (by March, 2019), Ms. May has until then to pass legislation to ensure that British law applies to all legislation currently mandated to the EU. That Bill has now been given second reading in Parliament and was not without controversy given the wide powers it will give the government to modify many adopted EU laws through regulation rather than through legislation. While the stated intent is for the Bill to simply enable a technical conversion of laws in order to prevent a legal hiatus, (allowing for any substantive amendments to follow once final authority is returned to Britain), the devil is always in the detail and there is huge potential for material impact on the laws that govern the lives of UK citizens. Continue reading “Brexit and Copyright: What Happens Next?”

The Year of the RAT—Beware

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In the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Rat (1984, 1996, 2008, 2020 etc), one of the 12 “animals” of the lunar cycle, brings with it good things as well as some cautions. Its prognostications are similar to those of the other eleven animals in the Chinese zodiac and to the predictions of western horoscopes. People born in the Year of the Rat, or “Rats”, are supposed to be “quick-witted, resourceful, versatile, kind, smart and lovely”, according to one Chinese zodiac website. But there is another “rat” out there that is far less benign and which can affect everyone, not just those born in specified years. I am referring to what is known as a “Remote Access Trojan” (RAT), a growing problem world-wide, particularly in Asia. One definition of a RAT calls it “a malware program that includes a back door for administrative control over the target computer.” Continue reading “The Year of the RAT—Beware”