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Monkey selfie row ends as US Copyright Office declares image public domain

The monkey selfie debate which grabbed a lot of attention and media headlines earlier this month has now been officially settled.

The controversy raged between photographer David Slater and Wikimedia, the latter having used an image of a macaque monkey which had been taken by itself, using Slater's camera which the animal had run off with (hence the monkey selfie tag). Slater argued he owned the rights to the image as it was his camera, and he should be paid for usage, whereas Wikimedia's case was that as the monkey had taken the snap itself, the photographer couldn't own the copyright.

Now the US Copyright Office has stepped in and declared that an image which was produced by an animal cannot be registered and copyrighted. In other words, Wikimedia wins, and the photo is in the public domain for usage anywhere.

Tech Digest reports that the Copyright Office updated its regulations to state: "The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals or plants."

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

(Presumably the latter is a reference to the impending Day of the Triffids, when we all go blind and large leafy monsters run off with our Canon DSLRs).

The regulation updates also specify that a work "purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings" can't be copyrighted, either.

As we've said previously, it seems a little harsh on Slater (though maybe we're the only ones who think so). He did spend three days in Indonesia trailing the monkeys around snapping away, and without his time spent and camera equipment being out there, the photo clearly wouldn't exist.

Read more: "Monkey selfie" photographer claims Wikimedia has left him £10,000 out of pocket

But, rules are rules, and he'll not be getting a penny of the £10,000 he claimed he could have otherwise made from the image after it went viral...