Macaque   (c) David Slater


A man went broke.

He invested cold nights in 2011 in the Indonesian jungle befriending primates, photographing them and apparently cajoling them into taking selfies. One cheeky crested macaque, successfully got baited into the perfect selfie. Mr. Slater forwarded this to his agent for print work and after one newspaper published the image, it went viral and became a free for all.

Amongst those sharing in the spoils, were websites, with some tagging the image as public domain. Mr. Slater no doubt was perturbed by the nature of these events. He sued to get the scavengers off his intellectual property before it was reduced to mere morsels.

Creatives put a lot of effort into their final product. In this case money was spent on travel, bugs were squished, muscles were strained and grit was spawned to befriend the primates. The final product; in this very unfortunate digital world, was a click away for all to claim.

An animal rights organization came into this picture. They sued on behalf of the monkey on the basis that as the ‘thing’ that pressed the button; the monkey, was the actual author and thus the copyright owner.

In copyright, an author is the ‘person’ who creates the work.

Jurisdictional issues aside, it begs the question, were it not for Mr. Slater’s persistence, set up of his camera, being at the right place at the right time and sharing the end product, would the world be graced with this gem of an image?

The prospect of images not necessarily taken by us but by other species or machines, but nevertheless engineered by us, not belonging to us, may be a disincentive for creatives to share gems like this if they believe that they will not be acknowledged for their work or derive any benefit from such creations.

This should not be the intention of copyright law, to act as a hindrance and a barrier to creativity.

There were jabs about which specific monkey it was whose image was in contention and whether the right monkey was suing Mr. Slater for copyright.

Earlier this week, the court finally held that animals can have no copyright. Is this the final, definite, conclusive, long hard nail on the coffin on a battle that has been brewing since 2014?

There is a wad of disappointment here, not because the monkey lost the case, but because we may have missed the chance to give our primal friends (stuck in evolutionary dystopia) the opportunity to finally move on up and own real property in future! Who wouldn’t want to negotiate rent with a primate?

Mr. Slater gave us a Macaque selfie.

May no other human go broke in the creative process.





We are back on Copyright and this is a fairly big week for one branch of it. It is FAIR USE WEEK, 2018, a chance for debates, discussions and general contribution to the acknowledgement of fair use and its impact on usability. What does Fair use mean for users of copyrighted works?

Remembering the automatic ammunition of copyright upon creation of creative works means that it is a stringent and oft rigid protection which gives the author full control on how their work is used. The notion of copyright is that you need the permission of the owner of that work before making use of it.

Permissions, ah! The path of despair upon which many must face, and few reach nirvana!

Luckily, there lies a “Jack-in-the-box” in one modern hero of copyright exceptions. We shall call her Lady Fair Use (sometimes known as Madame Fair Dealing). Because, only a true lady lays down explicit instructions on how her affairs should be run and expects them to be followed to the letter.

She is a refuge to those who need her but a plague to those whose works are being used.

Lady Fair use, holds those who want to use another’s copyrighted work, close to her bosoms and protects them from copyright infringement, on condition that they meet some explicit conditions (You have to give measure for measure if you are going to lay on the bosom).

And if you meet those factors, you have a free pass to use the work for the intended purpose, without any necessary permissions from the copyright owner. That is the public interest bit of copyright.

So, back to the bosom.

Whilst you are here, with your incriminating material at hand, this is what Lady Fair Use shall ask of you, in order to make peace with the copyrighted work. “PANE it”.

  1. Bring the PURPOSE of your use within any of the categories of personal use, study, research, teaching, criticism, review, comment, parody, satire and news reporting. Non-commercial use of the work will make us have more empathy for you.
  2. Make sure that the AMOUNT you use is minimal in relation to the overall work (anywhere between 5-15%) of the overall work is usually feasible.
  3. Ensure that the NATURE of the work you are using is published (made available to the public) and it is better to use factual works than non-factual (fantasy) works.
  4. Ensure that your use of that limited portion has minimal EFFECT on the economic market of the original work.

If you can bring yourself within the ambit of at least these four factors, you are at liberty to use limited portions of the copyrighted work without further permissions from the owner.

And Lady Fair Use will count her duty discharged.

fair use-fair dealing


What is Creative Commons?

Yamashita_Yohei_-_CC_on_Orange_(by)Yamashita Yohei- CC on orange (BY)

When the old man said No, everybody knew they could not just come into his property and take his oranges without permission; he had a loaded gun, ready to protect and punish.

But his old lady was more open, she did not mind people coming to take some oranges because the people were hungry and they really needed some, so long as they told people where they got the juicy oranges from so that they could be known as the growers of the sweetest oranges in town.

Sometimes, the old lady did not want anybody to get the oranges from her freely and sell them to others. That was wrong and she wanted them to pass on the kindness to others. Sometimes, she did not mind them selling some oranges if it would help them feed their own families.

Sometimes, she did not want others to inter-breed her oranges so that they could come up with new breeds of sweeter varieties, this would destroy the purity of her original oranges. Sometimes, she did not mind. New varieties only meant new knowledge and improvement in science.

Sometimes, she wanted people to take and share the oranges under the same conditions that she had given them, sometimes she did not ask or mind.

And people said the old lady was as sweet as her oranges. Now that’s free promotion.

But the old man! The old man, held on to that gun, and woe unto those who trespassed.

Creative commons is like the open-minded generous lady, who despite tough rules, really does want people to benefit in one way or another.

Copyright on the other hand may be seen as a loaded gun, where one would need to ask permissions before using any work.

Both however, work very well together and in fact, complement each other. This is because creative commons is modelled on the notion that although creator have automatic copyrights to control how their work is used, some people want and can share their works freely without any individual requests for permissions. All one needs to do is use the work according to what the license tells them to do.

CC has designed some fun licences that tell you how to use such works if you see the below logos (and thereby making the sweet old lady happy).



Say the work is by ‘Author’ (give credit) then you can copy, distribute, remix and perform the work.


Say the Work is by ‘Author’, then also share and adapt your new works using the same license as this.


Work is by ‘Author’, but if you change it, please do not distribute that new version. Only distribute the original version (unchanged).


Work is by ‘Author’ and you can share and adapt into new works as long as they are not for commercial uses.


Work is by ‘Author’ and you can share and adapt but you must also share you new work with others under the same license as this one.


Work is by ‘Author’ and you can share and adapt but you can neither distribute the adapted version nor use it commercially. Only share the original work.