The Fiction of Owen Thomas

Henry's Interview Corner


A Beagle Dreams of Finally Getting Some Answers

David Slater

(Interviewed September 27, 2014)

H:         David Slater, welcome to Henry’s Interview Corner.

DS:         You’re …

H:         I’m Henry.

DS:         You’re…

H:         Oh, yeah, right. The Beagle thing. I just don’t get why that’s so surprising. 

DS:         But…

H:         You keep looking behind you. I’m right here. You’re not being punked.

DS:         But…

H:         Moving right along. We’re here to talk about this fascinating legal dispute you have with Wikipedia.

DS:         But I thought I … I thought this was an interview.

H:         It is an interview.

DS:         Uh, no. An interview with Wolf Blitzer. An interview with CNN.

H:         I am, in fact, proudly affiliated with the Canine News Network. And my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was ten percent wolf. So… you know. I can howl like nobody’s business. Anyhoo… let’s talk about this dust-up. What’s go you so riled?

DS:         … I, uh… Okay. I guess… You see, Wikipedia is publishing some photos I took. I want them to stop doing that. The copyright to those photos should belong to me, the photographer. Wikipedia has no right to just throw them out to the public like that.

H:         So what kind of photos are we talking about here?

DS:         They’re photos of macaques living in the Indonesian jungle.

H:         Macaques. You mean… monkeys.

DS:         Right. Monkeys. I’m a nature photographer.

H:         And you took these photos. Personally. You took them.

DS:         …

H:         Daaaaaviiiid. Be honest.

DS:         I sort of took them. Yes.

H:         How do you sort of take a picture?

DS:         The macaques… actually… kind of… pushed the shutter button. But I did everything else! I set everything up! They just did that last part.

H:         The taking-the-picture part, you mean?

DS:         Well.

H:         These are essentially simian-selfies, aren’t they?

DS:         No. That’s absurd. The selfie is strictly a human concept. Monkeys have no concept of selfies.

H:         Maybe, but isn’t that just because you humans have all of the cameras?

DS:         No.

H:         Really? Look what happens when you share a camera with a monkey: boom, monkey takes a picture. Simian-selfie.

DS:         Oh, come on.

H:         Don’t you think that the selfie impulse is common to all species? Monkeys. Dogs.

DS:         No.

H:         Horses. Squirrels. Salmon.

DS:         Salmon? No. This is ridiculous.

H:         It’s just a matter of making the equipment available.

DS:         No.

H:         Really? You really think it’s limited to human primates.

DS:         Yes.

H:         Well aren’t you special. Think you know everything about selfies, do you?

DS:         No, I…

H:         I’ll have you know that I have actually interviewed a Selfie Master.

DS:         A Selfie Master?

H:         Anthony Weiner.

DS:         Oh.

H:         The man knows his way around a camera phone. He was like a selfie savant. When a selfie goes viral in a bad way, that’s called Pulling a Weiner. Probably never even heard of that one did you?

DS:         No.

H:         Well that’s who it comes from. Bet you didn’t think you could learn anything from a Beagle.

DS:         Are we done here?

H:         No. We are not done here. Sit back down. In advance of this interview I reached out to the Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia. I asked them for their position. Would you like to know what they said?

DS:         No. Not really.

H:         They seem to think that no one owns the copyright to those photos because you didn’t actually take those photos. The monkeys took those photos.

DS:         No… I was the one who…

H:         And they say that since the copyright laws were written to protect the creative product of humans and not monkeys, the monkeys have no protectable legal interest in the photos. 

DS:         But, look…

H:         Therefore, says Wikipedia, the photos belong within the public domain.

DS:         The monkeys did nothing – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING…

H:         You don’t need to shout.

DS:         The monkeys… did absolutely nothing… to set up the shot… or position the camera. I did all of that. Me! I did all the work! They just pushed the damned shutter button.

H:         Right, but you didn’t build the camera, did you?

DS:         What? No.

H:         Canon did that.

DS:         Nikon actually. See?

H:         Nice looking camera. Okay, so why doesn’t Nikon own the copyright? Nikon did everything for you except put the camera on the tripod and command the moneys to say cheese. Nikon’s more responsible for those photos than you are, aren’t they?

DS:         …

H:         Mr. Slater?

DS:         I never commanded the monkeys to say cheese.

H:         My concern, frankly Mr. Slater, is not for you or Wikipedia or the public or Nikon. I’m concerned for the poor monkeys.  Look, if you grab hold of a camera, you push the little button, you immortalize yourself in binary code… then you expect to own the picture. Don’t you? I mean really. Don’t you expect to own your own selfie?

DS:         I…

H:         Don’t answer. Let’s bring in Samuel Hochstetler. Come on out Sam.

DS:         Who is Samuel Hochstetler?

H:         He’s a monkey. A macaque like the ones in those pictures. Swing on up here Sam. Have a seat right there to Mr. Slater.

DS:         You own a monkey?

H:         I know a monkey, David. I don’t own a monkey. I’m a dog, not a monster.

DS:         A monkey named Samuel Hoch… Hoch…

H:         Hochstetler. He’s Amish. His parents are Pennsylvania Dutch. They adopted him from Brazil. Sup Sammy? Thanks for coming in, man.

SH:         ‘Sup, my Beagle?

H:         We’re here debating legal ethics with David Slater.

DS:         We are not debating legal ethics, we’re…

SH:         Hey… I hearda chu. Should be ashame of chu-sef, man.  Leave my monkey brothers the hell alone.

DS:         Hey, I didn’t do anything. I set up a camera and let them take pictures.

SH:         Yeah, man, so chu can sell those pictures on the Internets. Am I right? Don’t chu be eyeballin’ me. Am … I… right?!

H:         Let’s keep it civil Sam.

DS:         I…. well… yeah of course I’m going to sell them.

SH:         Das sick, man. Chu a sick bastard.

DS:         What? No. Look, that’s what I do. I’m a professional photographer. I take photographs and I sell those photographs to people who like them. That’s… that’s…

SH:         Is exploitation is what da is. How you like if I stick a camera in chu face and took chu picture and then sell it to monkey ass dot com?

DS:         I didn’t stick a camera in their face and take their picture. I put the camera on a tripod next to a bush and they came over…

H:         They came over and TOOK THE PICTURE! You admit it. So why not just acknowledge that they own the rights to their own selfies?

DS:         They’re only monkeys! They don’t have copyright protection! Has everyone here gone bananas?

SH:         Bananas? Oh, no chu di’int.   I can no just let that go. You a racist mother…

H:         Sammy? Sam… Sam… Wait. Stop. Use your words. Sam. Oh dear. No flinging Sam.

SH:         Oh, I gonna fling, Henry. I gonna fling!

DS:         Hey! That’s… Hey! Cut it out! Eeww.

SH:         And thas no all I gonna do.

DS:         Get him off of me! Get him off! Let go of my face! Ow! Those little fists! My hair! You said he was Amish!

SH:         Oh, what? Chu never hear of a monkey on Rumspringa? I’ma show chu da funky monkey Gangum style! Chu gonna want to take a picture of this, Henry.

H:         Uh… my iphone is charging. Hmm. David? Dav…Mr. Slater? Mr. Slater? Mind if I borrow your camera there? How do you turn it on? Is this it? Dave? Ooo. That’s gotta hurt.


Other Henry Interviews




comments powered by Disqus