When we last heard from photographer David Slater, the U.S. Copyright Office had rejected his claim that he owned the copyright for the famous series of selfies presumably taken unintentionally by a Celebes crested macaque. In 2011, Slater spent several days following and photographing a troop of macaques in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and the selfies were a lucky bi-product that quickly became a web sensation. Slater had asserted ownership over the photos, and had demanded that various on-line users, such as Wikipedia, either take them down or pay him as the copyright holder. The ruling of the Copyright Office was based on the theory that Slater had not taken the photo, so he was not the creator, and animals couldn’t own copyrights, so the photos were in the public domain.
Pop Ethics Quiz: Would it have been unethical had Slater simply released the photos without revealing that the selfies had been the lucky result of an accident, snapped by the monkey wile it was messing around with his equipment?
About the Copyright Office’s ruling: I’m dubious. Slater owned the equipment, and had the sense to preserve the photos. A decision that if a photo is taken accidentally by a non-human or an act of God, the photographer who owns the equipment gets the copyright would have been fair. Zapruder owned the film that inadvertently caught President Kennedy having his forehead shot off, and it made him rich. Slater’s claim just goes a step further: Zapruder left the street to buy a hotdog, put his camera on on a trash can and asked a friend to “watch it,” and a dog turned the camera on, catching the grisly scene. So Zapruder doesn’t own the film anymore? Does that make sense to you?
Well, that was the ruling anyway. Then things got really ridiculous. Slater included the monkey selfies in a book, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) brought a law suit against Slater on behalf of the monkey,which PETA claims is named Naruto, and asked that PETA be appointed to administer proceeds from the photos for the benefit of Naruto and other crested macaques in the reserve on Sulawesi. So PETA would suddenly be the de facto copyright holder. Continue reading
Every time I come across a rationalization for the Ethics Alarms list, I metaphorically, and sometimes literally, slap myself on the forehead. How could I have missed it? Thus I have been long convinced that there was a huge, obvious, missing rationalization that somehow got lost in the search for others. Jimmy Durante did a piano routine called “I’m the Guy Who Found the Lost Chord!” (“The Lost Chord” is a previously famous composition by Sir Arthur Sullivan) in which he celebrated finding the chord, then lost it again mid-song. (Jimmy later found it again when he sat on the keyboard in disgust, and the magic chord issued forth. “Strange” he said, “I usually play by ear!”) This is how frustrated I was until today, when veteran commenter Tim LeVier led me to the Lost Rationalization, #57, “The Golden Rule Mutation,” or “I’m all right with it!” It’s a major one:
57. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!” Continue reading
I’ll admit it: I have about as little interest in photography and photographs as it is possible to have for a human living in this century. I regard the mania for taking photos of oneself constantly and posting them on-line as strong evidence that crippling narcissism can be transmitted electronically, and as we have been discussing in comment to this recent post, if you try to use me as a prop in your cellphone camera-warped quest to make every your waking hour the object of public gawking, you had better ask permission first, or else. I realize this attitude is fighting the “everybody does it” tide, but I’m right, everybody is wrong, and that’s all there is to it.
This story out of Argentina, in addition to being disgusting, shows just how unbalanced the selfie-craze is making human priorities. I know—Argentina. This couldn’t happen here, right? Not in a country where Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are surging in the polls….we’re too smart.
Two La Plata dolphins, members of a rare and endangered species, got to close to shore in their playfulness near an Argentinian resort last week. Some bathers plucked the small cetaceans out of the waves, and they were passed around a smiling, brain-dead mob containing selfie-mad amateur photographers. One of the dolphins died of stress and exposure, and was just dumped on the beach. But never mind: it will live on in online shares and Instagram. What’s the problem, dude?
“At least one of these dolphins suffered a horrific, traumatic and utterly unnecessary death, for the sake of a few photographs,” a spokesperson from the World Animal Protection group said. “This terribly unfortunate event is an example of the casual cruelty people can inflict when they use animals for entertainment purposes.”
Activists groups just cannot help themselves, can they? They must squeeze every episode into their own agenda. This is one of many reasons why they aren’t trusted. This episode was about reckless, selfish, ignorant people who don’t have respect for living things, not Sea World.
Well, the crowd got their selfies, so it’s all worth it to them. Meanwhile. as for their once living, breathing, prop…
Fortunately, the carcass was still good for one more photo.
According to USA Today and many other reputable news sources, Washington Nationals pitcher Jonathan Papelbon “choked” team mate Bryce Harper in a dugout altercation in full view of fans and TV cameras during yesterday’s loss to the Phillidelphia Phillies. The photo above, freezing the moment in which Papelbon’s hand touched Harper’s neck, was presented full page width in the Nats’ home town paper, the Washington Post.
Now here’s the video:
Papelbon’s hand was on Harper’s throat for less than a second, as opposed to the impression given by the still, in which you can almost hear Harper gagging ACK! GAH! LLLLGGGGHHH! The USA Today headline “Bryce Harper was choked by Jonathan Papelbon in Nationals’ dugout fight” is pure sensationalism and an intentional misrepresentation. I’m not even certain Papelbon was trying to choke Harper, but if he was, he failed immediately because Harper backed away.
This incident transcends its context for ethical interest, because it demonstrates how much context and biases influence public and media assessments of right and wrong.
First, some context: Continue reading
Honestly, I don’t get it. The horrible photos of the exact moment deranged racist Vester Lee Flanagan opened fire on Alison Parker convey what happened in specificity and clarity that no mere verbal description could. If your issue is gun violence, this shows it. If you want to see and understand what tragedy is “up close and personal” and even if you don’t want to understand it, this is how we learn. The furious criticism being focused on the Daily News is traditional Daily News hate, as far as I can determine. That paper has been criticized for having the guts to show raw images for a century now: one of its first outrages was a surreptitious photo of murderess Ruth Snyder being electrocuted:
Now that photo is history. Today’s front page will be history too.
At the journalism ethics site of the Poynter Institute, Kelly McBride, Poynter’s vice president for academic programs and a media ethicist, argues against using the unedited pictures, saying that “the problem with it is that it a deeply intimate image. It is a moment of someone’s death.”
You mean like….. this?
That’s just thousands of people being incinerated in Nagasaki, but from a distance, so it’s tasteful, is that the idea? Well, what about this award winner… Continue reading