“Monkey selfie” photographer claims Wikimedia has left him £10,000 out of pocket

The photographer involved in the "monkey selfie" controversy which has flared up this week has claimed he is considerably out of pocket over the image.

This fracas hit the headlines when Wikimedia published its transparency report, whereby it noted that a request had been put in for the image of a macaque monkey to be removed from the site, as the photographer, David Slater, said he owned the copyright (and he wanted to be paid for its usage – or have the pic taken down).

Wikimedia said it didn't agree he owned the copyright – and this is where it gets thorny – as the picture was actually taken by the monkey, after it had stolen his camera. Hence the "monkey selfie", with Wiki basically asserting that as Slater didn't actually take the picture, he can't claim rights over it. In effect, as the monkey pressed the button, no one owns the copyright.

Slater, naturally, doesn't agree, and is claiming that he has lost £10,000 income over the past two years due to the image being declared as in the public domain, thus meaning he now can't get any buyers for the picture (obviously enough).

Slater told the BBC: "I made £2,000 [for that picture] in the first year after it was taken. After it went on Wikipedia all interest in buying it went. It's hard to put a figure on it but I reckon I've lost £10,000 or more in income. It's killing my business."

Slater spent a three day period in Indonesia following the tribe of monkeys around back in 2011, so we can see why he's aggrieved. However you argue this one, it's a fact that if he hadn't have been out there conducting this project, with his camera and equipment, the photo undoubtedly would not exist.

Related: Monkey selfies and Aboriginals: Wikipedia founder brands Google censorship "immoral"

Wikimedia remains unmoved, though. The licensing entry for the image on the site states: "This file is in the public domain, because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested."

A non-human animal? We'd love to meet a human animal (maybe werewolves do exist after all, and Wikipedia knows about it – possibly via a surreptitiously snapped selfie).