Thursday, August 07, 2014

Monkeys & the Copyright Office

Everyone has a favorite government website, right? Of course! My favorite comes from the U.S. Copyright Office: www.copyright.gov. Even the URL warms my heart (not that I don't love the alphabet soup sites the government churns out, like www.faa.gov, www.epa.gov, www.fta.dot.gov (a twofer!)).

What makes the U.S. Copyright site so special? It provides the answer to this only-on-the-Internet conundrum: if a monkey takes a selfie, who owns the copyright?* Per Section 20(a)1 of the U.S. Copyright Act, "Copyright in a work protected under this title vests initially in the author or authors of the work." Whether or not a non-human animal can own a copyright is addressed at Slate.com.

Need another reason to visit www.copyright.gov? It's fun facts. Today's fun fact from the U.S. Copyright Office: The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous sculptures ever registered for copyright, and may be the largest. In 1876 French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi submitted a photo of a model of his statue to the U.S. Copyright Office.


*I know, I know. This sounds like "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," "If You Give a Pig a Pancake," "If You Give a Dog a Donut," or "If You Give a Moose a Muffin." These are very different what-if questions that likely only involve the ramifications of giving animals people-food.