Penniless photographer pleads poverty in monkey curse case

A photographer who won the jackpot only to see his life turned upside down after snapping an iconic monkey selfie in the jungles of Indonesia is ruing the day he snapped the crested black macaque six years ago.

Penniless photographer pleads poverty in monkey writ

Wildlife photographer David Slater has been hounded by animal rights group Peta ever since in a crazy legal dispute over who owns the copyright to the image – Slater who set-up the shoot or the monkey which pulled the trigger.

In the latest twist Peta’s lawyers turned up at the court of appeals in San Francisco to hear whether a judge will declare the primate to be the legitimate owner of the image or whether Slater, who claims to have lost ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ in lost earnings is the rightful owner.

Explaining his plight to The Times Slater said: “I’m broke. I don’t make trips any more. I can’t afford to renew my equipment, it has become embarrassing.

“This image has been stolen from me. It is being used all over the world, but no one wants to pay me for it. Now they [Peta] want what little money I have and what little pride I have left.”

Slater hasn’t earned any royalties from his picture as copyright lawattributes ownership to the ‘person’ who takes the picture – and as animals aren’t people they can’t claim copyright.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.