This is a fascinating story of a modern day David (Photographer, David Slater) meets Goliath (Wikipedia). It's not very often that copyright issues become media sensations but in this case the sheer hilarity of the image has helped stoke popular interest.
The case revolves around 'selfies' taken by a troop of black macaque monkeys. Wikipedia has been showing the image (left) but refuses to pay royalties to Mr. Slater because the photograph was not taken by him - but by the monkey!
Understandably, David Slater contends that, as he owns the equipment, the camera was very carefullly set-up to enable the monkey to take the picture, and that he had control of the camera settings, the copyright should be his. There's also the not inconsiderable sum of some $30,000 in lost royalties at stake. Wikipedia disagrees and argues that as the photo was not taken by a human being there is no copyright to argue.
Ironically, the media interest means that royalties due are probably way in excess of original estimations. For my money, I think the monkey should get them. After all, who could not side with such a cheerful, cheeky chappy.
Better legal minds than mine can debate the issues. It made me muse about all of the pictures taken by timed, or self triggered, mechanisms - in these cases the photographer is also not present.
I've used the images here to illustrate the story. Now I'm not sure whether to expect a call from David Slater's (pictured below - he's the one in the middle) lawyers or to have a troop of black macaques, in the street outside, throwing their poo at my front door!