A selfie-happy Indonesian jungle crested black macaque is costing a British nature photographer an unknown— but likely very high– amount of money. According to The Washington Post, The Wikimedia Foundation refuses to pay for use of David Slater’s pristine monkey images because he’s not the one who pushed the shutter.
David Slater was reportedly following a group of the monkeys in 2011 when one of the animals took his camera and snapped hundreds of pictures, including many up-close images of itself smiling and some more featuring another monkey and Slater in the background.
Hilarious as the photos are, they could potentially be very valuable, and Slater is not being paid for their use on Wikimedia Commons.
“This is ruining my business,” the photographer said to The Post on Wednesday. “If it was a normal photograph and I had claimed I had taken it, I would potentially be a lot richer than I am.”
Wikimedia said online Wednesday that they have ignored Slater’s requests to remove the image from their database because the monkeys snapped the photos when he left his camera unattended. Slater reportedly began asking for the removal of the photos in early 2012.
The Post reported that the photographer is now seeking a lawyer in his home country of Britain and in the US, where Wikimedia is based. He claims to be very much in debt, and wants what he says is rightfully his: compensation for images taken on his camera and edited by him.
Wikimedia seems to think that like in all photography rights cases, the image belongs to the individual who took the photo. In this case, that’s the monkey— or as NBC’s Brian Williams put it, the face “of pure joy that only a mother crested black macaque could love.”