‘Suffer from depression and can’t sleep’: how selfies macaques destroyed the career of the photographer

Briton Dave Slater, specializing in filming wildlife and were nominated for many awards for this work, says that the fatal picture had cost him the loss of all savings and led to the decline of his career. About it writes “Zvezdets”.

'Страдаю депрессией и не могу спать': как селфи макаки уничтожило карьеру фотографа

Photo: Shutterstock

The moment was made that the infamous picture, published more than 50 million times, photographer Dave Slater worked in the national Park in the North of Indonesia, only 50 miles from the equator. In 45-degree heat, he dragged his backpack weighing 18kg, tripod, camera, some expensive lenses and a pack of damp biscuits as sustenance.

It was the last week of his month-long trip that he had planned and saved for almost seven years, and during which he lost more than 10 kg, carrying all his load through the rainforest.

“It was really exhausting,” he says today, sitting in his home in the town of Chepstow in Wales.

His goal was to photograph endangered species and to use the obtained image to draw attention to their serious plight. The Holy Grail was a very rare crested black toque — a monkey under threat of extinction, with a fully black face, found only on two Indonesian Islands.

“There were only a few hundred and I’ve only seen one photo of these monkeys, says Dave. I used to admire their look, hairstyle, face, It was the strongest impression from my expedition!”

When a local guide brought Dave to this place, the photographer was stunned: “It was just amazing, even surreal.” A flock of 20 years of black monkeys played with each other, Dave hid 150 metres from them and began to shoot using a long lens.

Gradually he managed to gain the trust of the animals and approach them. By the next day the inquisitive monkeys were everywhere: dug in her hair photographer, rummaging in his backpack, took his cookie and was especially fond of the camera. They seemed as if spellbound by the buzz sound of the shutter and tried again and again to press the button to hear it.

Then Dave tried to run the function “self” (the word “selfie” at the time, was not used) and the monkeys rushed to the remote start button. In the end, merry, the photographer decided to let them fend for themselves. Animals eagerly pressed the button, grinning to his reflection in the lens.

Among the hundreds of resulting images (a left not in the field) stood a remarkable self-portrait grinning monkey eyes glowing amber, strong teeth bares the semblance of a smirk…
Back in Britain, Dave helped out several thousand pounds on the sale of fresh images, recouping the costs of travel to Indonesia. And after some time the self-portrait monkeys gained immense popularity: it was published worldwide more than 50 million times.

But instead of bringing Dave Slater, financial satisfaction and well-deserved professional recognition, this picture caused him a lot of worry, was worth all his savings and marked the end of his career as a photographer.

In this story, you can find all the elements of farce of the XXI century, including crazy disagreements about copyright law in the California court and the “inhumanity” of a charitable organization, which filed a lawsuit against Dave on behalf of six-year-old male macaque, claiming that he is the legitimate copyright owner of the ill-fated the.

In the last six years, the photographer was involved in what can be called one of the most pointless, stupid, expensive and aggressive legal battles of all time. So who owns the copyright? Dave or monkey?

The photographer never any doubt: “of Course, it was my copyright! I chose the background. I’ve adjusted the best coverage. I chose the lens and I processed all the images. It was all my work, and it required a lot of perseverance and effort.”

The problems began from the moment when the California blog Techdirt and Wikipedia said that the picture belongs to the monkey and uploaded it to their web sites, allowing free use of the image.
Since this was an assault on the rights of Dave and his livelihood, he was asked Techdirt and Wikipedia to stop using his photos, but was refused. Dave decided to sue for the amount of 18 000 pounds ($22 722), saying: “Copyright is somewhat broader than pressing the shutter button”.

In court it emerged that clearly give the right to the can neither Dave nor monkey. The only primates that have managed to capitalize on this process, were lawyers.

Two years ago, as trials, human rights organization “people for the ethical treatment of animals” (PETA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the monkeys, which they called “Naruto”, saying that the Tu should be declared owner of the image. And demanded the right to dispose of funds due macaque.

PETA claimed that the monkey was not able to file your own lawsuit “due to the unavailability and incapacity”. Dave tells me that, for obvious reasons, his lawyers considered this claim as a joke. Unfortunately, it was much more serious.

In 2019, a U.S. judge ruled against PETA, claiming that the animals are not included in the copyright Law. He said, “Although Congress and the President can extend the protection of the law both in animals and humans, there is no indication that it is made in copyright Law”.

However, PETA appealed the decision. The case returned to court in San Francisco. The arguments include such absurd regulations, as

  • does PETA sufficiently close relationship to Naruto to represent him;
  • the possibility of providing written notice to the copyright community of monkeys;
  • was Naruto damages in connection with the refusal to recognize him as the copyright owner of the.

Dave, who had to participate in meetings online, because he could not afford the flight to California felt that he was losing a sense of reality: “I was sued by a monkey! I’ve had almost two years to get used to it, but it still seems unreal…”.

Moreover, he is convinced that PETA supposedly protects the interests of all some of the not macaques. “In the picture – a female!”

Dave Slater is a vigorous man, which is always pleasing to the unexpected vagaries of life, but six years of transatlantic legal disputes, uncertainty, disappointment, and online bullying affected him profoundly.

“I suffer from depression and can’t sleep,’ he says. But the hardest feelings of failure. I can’t provide for his family”.

A mortgage on a modest home in Chepstow, he has to share with his wife, and to contain seven year old daughter today, forced wife exclusively. Dave said that his car was already two years dead weight is out front, because the photographer can’t afford to repair the car. And all because he was forced to spend thousands and thousands of pounds trying to protect the rights of their work.

Lawyer Dave confident of victory and promised to “deal” with all these unforeseen expenses.

“My daughter tells everyone that her dad took a picture of the monkey, but I have no possibility to give something to her. I can’t send her to a school that would like, or even think about how to pay her tuition at the University, when the time comes. Although it would be enough revenue from that one unfortunate picture,” — says the photographer.

The most insulting that Dave stopped to take pictures: “the Magic is gone. I pick up the camera from time to time to try to recover the joy, but I guess I can’t anymore. It was my life. I did not plan to earn a lot of money — I just wanted to get a fair wage for their work.”

Once in the world of lawyers with fabulous fees, fanatical animal rights activists and online trolls, he felt all its cruelty: “I am ashamed of all these attempts to take control of my own work and I also blame greed.”

The truth is that the main love Dave is nature. He grew up in Bolton, obsessed with animals. Every birthday and Christmas he asked for books on birds or Africa. He received the title of master degree in geological Sciences and completed post-graduate studies, specializing in volcanic gases.

With such qualifications he could earn a fortune working in the oil conglomerates, but after 14 years in academia chose a photo and animals.

“I wanted to go after my heart — I needed a stress free life,” says Dave. He worked as a window cleaner and gardener to live in while honing your skills as a photographer.

On account of Dave’s trip to the Arctic, Africa, the Philippines and Costa Rica. He devoted his life to animal welfare is becoming a photographer and working in the RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts and the Trust of Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. But no matter how talented you may be, the life of a freelance photographer financially unstable.

“You do thousands of images, hoping that one or two shots will be able to sell to pay the bills and Fund my next trip,” says Dave.

And then there was a grinning monkey.

Ironically, Dave was a little disappointed when I first viewed the results of the shooting: “They were slightly underexposed, and the mouth was a bit out of focus”.

But one frame was successful. A few hours after downloading the images on a website of a photographer in 2011, they became interested in one of the news agencies, and the picture was published in many Newspapers.

He soon went viral, appearing on social networks and blogs. “It was a wonderful moment, says Dave, Recalling that one commentator then joked that the monkey is owed. During the year, the image brought a photographer 2500 pounds ($3 150). He was hoping for small but steady income from the rights to re-publish. But then the appeared — Wikipedia, the free for all and hopes have dried up. In 2014, says Dave, his monkey selfie became the most popular image in Google, overshadowing even Kim Kardashian.

But it ended pretty sad. Now, after the case returned to the court, Dave has learned to cope with the disturbance. He has to expect a decision for another two months, hoping that common sense will prevail.

Abandoning photography, he turned to tennis and became a professional vyglyadela dogs. The question is not if he would like never to encounter the ill-fated flock of rare crested black macaques Dave with surprise said, “No, no! Photography has helped me to achieve what I was going to do to protect the monkeys. And it was worth all the effort. Without such attention, they probably already would have disappeared as a species: the locals roasted them and ate. And now they’re everyone’s favorite, nicknamed the “selfie monkey”.

the court