The concept of legal and equitable ownership is constantly evolving as our blog has documented over the years. In a world where anything is possible, the viral photograph of the “Monkey Selfie” has led to a new lawsuit by PETA to extend copyright laws to animals.
The “Monkey Selfie” is a series of photographs that were taken by a black macaque during a photo-shoot set up by nature photographer, David Slater. Mr. Slater travelled to North Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2011 for the purpose of photographing black macaques when one of the black macaques took control of his camera and began pressing the shutter button resulting in hundreds of photographs. While most of the photographs were blurry or unremarkable, a handful of these photographs captured a facial portrait of the black macaque, Naruto, smiling and grinning at the camera.
Eventually, the infamous “Monkey Selfie” was posted on Wikipedia for free distribution around the world wide web. To Mr. Slater’s dismay, Wikimedia took the position that there is no copyright attached to these photographs because they were not taken by a human being (see here). In 2014, the US Copyright Office issued a compendium of its policies which included a new stipulation that only works produced by human beings may be registered for copyright.
As the result, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is now suing, on behalf of Naruto, to claim copyright to the “Monkey Selfie”. According to PETA, as reported here by CNN, “authorship; under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq., is sufficiently broad so as to permit the protections of the law to extend to any original work, including those created by Naruto”.
For good measure, click here for an “elphie” to round out your #Friday morning.
Thanks for reading!
Eighty years ago, at the height of the Great Depression, a wealthy Ohio businessman hid $182,000 in minted $50 bills in a wall in his house. There it hung peacefully by a wire in a green metal lockbox, disturbed only by inflation. A contractor discovered the money while tearing down the wall, and he honestly and very admirably informed the home owner.
Unfortunately, things spiralled out of control. First, the home owner and the contractor were unable to agree on a division of the money. She offered the contractor 10%, he asked for 40%. Then the story made it into Cleveland’s local news, and the estate of Patrick Dunne, the guy who hid the money, got involved (Patrick Dunne had 21 descendants). The dispute went to litigation.
For various reasons, the home owner dropped her claim. However, the county court probate magistrate ruled that $157,000 was clearly marked as Patrick Dunne’s property and therefore was the property of his estate. Of the remaining $25,000, the judge recommened the estate receive 83.3% and the contractor receive 13.7% – approximately $3,400.
CBS News produced an interesting podcast of the legal issues, posted here. More food for thought: $182,000 in 1930 is the equivalent of $2,384,341.68 according to the Bureau of labor Statistics inflation calculator. Of course, some of the rare bills are worth up to $500,000 to collectors…
There are a lot of lessons here.
Have a great week,
Listen to Asset Particulars
This week on Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Ian and Suzana talk about the importance of keeping track of asset details.
Listen to "Arranging an Agreement on Cottage Property"
Read the transcribed version of "Arranging an Agreement on Cottage Property"
This week on Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Ian and Suzana continue talking about cottage and recreational properties.
In this week’s episode of Hull on Estates, Sean Graham and Natalia Angelini discuss securing interest in land in litigation.
Listen to "Family Cottage Cases of Ownership Transfers"
Read the transcribed version of "Family Cottage Cases of Ownership Transfers"
In this week’s episode of Hull on Estate and Succession Planning, Ian and Suzana share a few stories involving cases of ownership and the family cottage.