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If You’re a Photographer, Here’s How the Copyright Office’s Monumental Mistake Will Affect Your Intellectual Property

When office-holders in the government render decisions, citizens are obliged to obey – even if the decision is misguided, nonsensical, and anti-constitutional. This is what happened in case of the Monkey Selfie.

In a previous post, I explained why the photographer whose camera was used by a monkey to produce a valuable photograph should be granted a copyright on the photo. I argued that to deny such a grant of intellectual property would create a circumstance in which the public would eventually be denied the value of interesting art.

Copyright is a form of intellectual property recognized in the U.S. Constitution, which directs Congress to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” By science, the framers of the Constitution meant fine arts which includes literature, and was later extended by Congress to include photographs (upheld by a Supreme Court decision in 1884 called Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. V. Sarony).

Today’s copyright office appears to deplore the idea of private property, by acting against the interest of the public. The office has decided if a photographer allows the public to view his photographs, he must do so for free.

What’s more, just as I predicted, the copyright office will not allow copyright ownership on “works produced by a machine or mere mechanical process that operates randomly or automatically without any creative input or intervention from a human author.”

Next time you see a photo, find out if it was produced by a stand-alone camera operating on a timer or tripped by a sensor. If it was, take it for your own. The copyright office gives you its blessing.

I bet you won’t be seeing such photos too much longer.

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