Is that the best you can do? I read that, but how many photographer's assistants have had "one hand on the tripod" to steady it, and there's no way you'd give them copyright. That's an absurdly weak claim on an image. If he had had one hand on the tripod and one on a remote shutter release that would do it. But the monkeys framed the shot when they "grinned, grimaced and bared teeth at themselves in the reflection of the large glassy lens." Then "They played with the camera until of course some images were inevitably taken."
Nope, you are still badly mistaken. Slater doesn't own the shot: it's either nobody, or it's the Indonesian government.
However, common sense says if a person set up an equipment in order to get a certain type of results, gets those results, and puts in the efforts to publish those results- they should be the logical recipient of the credits.
In many cases yes; in this case no. Think about this: imagine it's not a macaque, but a 16-year old child who steps up, plays with the camera and takes some selfies. Who owns the photos? I believe (IANAL) that the kid does. Now make it an 8-year old kid: same thing. How make it a 1-year old barely learning to walk. They are still the child's photos because it was the intent of the child that caused specific photos to be taken in specific ways. Now, an adult macaque has a similar or higher level of mental development than a 1-year old human. While it's true that the photographer set up a great studio, it was the macaques that chose to approach the camera, chose to handle it, chose to interact with their reflections in the glass and (unintentionally) caused the photos to be captured. The photographer set it up so that some photos
might be captured, but if the monkeys had not chosen to do any of those activities then these particular
photos would not have been captured. As I said above, if he had operated the camera by remote shutter release then he would have claim on the images. The point you're missing is that it's not about some
photos being taken, it's about certain specific
photos. The decision about which specific photos, with which poses, facial expressions, framing was 100% the monkeys.
Your proposition would be valid for somewhat different circumstances, e.g. a motion-sensing camera, or a timer, or something similar where the animal does not purposefully interact with the camera.
Let's say a primate researcher sets up his equipment in a certain way to perform a certain experiment- let's say macaques shooting themselves with a camera, to study social behavior. The macaques do approach the camera, which has been set up to allow the most likelihood of an acceptable picture being taken (wide angle lens, predictive focus- which I am sure very few wildlife photographers use otherwise), and by random chance some good shots are taken. The scientist duly collects the data and processes the images.
Now, would you say the data and the images are in the public domain so anyone can use the data without citing or permission, or even publish the results in a paper.
Data and images are different things. I'm not claiming the images are in the public domain -- I don't know. I believe they are (or should be) not Slater's
copyright. Data is an entirely different beast and I haven't thought about it enough to offer a rational opinion.
To me, what matters in intent (which the photographer certainly had as he wanted the macaques to trigger their own images as they weren't approaching the camera otherwise
Consider a photography workshop led by a professional guide. The guide sets up all the stops, times the trip to hit the indigenous ceremonies at the right time, makes sure all the students are standing at the right overlook at the right time of day for perfect light, then steps back and lets the students point-n-click. By your reasoning, copyright of their photos would belong to the guide, not to the student who took the photo because all they did was play and click.
The other thing that matters is ethics. This is a guy who earns his bread through this trade.
I agree: a guy who makes a living habituating wild animals in a way that might make them vulnerable to poaching or other human threats is selfish and unethical. If he were a wildlife biologist (or similar) and had training and experience to do this in a way that contributed to their protection and to our understanding of their lives and habitats, your ethical argument might have merit.
photographers on this forum are repeating those technical clauses instead of thinking how a fellow tog is losing the money that could have helped him and his family
He could choose another way to make a living. If you're a scientist there's a good chance you don't make as much money with your brain as you could on Wall Street. That's your choice -- to do something useful to humanity while making a reasonable living.
I appreciate your thoughtful post, but I vehemently disagree.