Copying a Website / Monkey Selfies

Copying a Website / Monkey SelfiesOur firm recently had another law firm blatantly copy the format and on the whole, layout of our website, by another law firm. They even had the cheek to place a copyright style disclaimer on their site at the same time. LOL to use a modern term.

Just today, we see a more important and interesting case – of a photographer setting up a camera rig and procuring a monkey to take a “Selfie”. The monkey did indeed use the trigger to take a Selfie and the end result was very good, and original. A lot more original than another law firm’s attempt to copy our website format and style.

Normally when an image is being used in breach, a law firm or the owner of the image serves a ‘Take Down” notice. This has similarities to Ultimate Fighting Championship language, and of course when someone steals or allegedly steals an image or material, or an idea that should be protected, it isn’t difficult for the injured party to imagine a UFC style takedown or round house kick to the face as the injustice of blatant theft sinks in.

However, there is an argument that certain items are just not private and belong to the public in any event. Many website templates in fact feel and look similar because they are based on a global format. The arguments used by the alleged infringer of the Monkey Selfie photo is that animals cannot rely upon copyright law and therefore if they take the photo, the photo is automatically public.

It seems the law isn’t an ass, but may be a monkey.

To all those followers of what is public, what is private, what is theft of ideas, look to the principals of originality and creativity. If something is already good, and you build on that idea to make something better for a consumer and for the world, good on you – prove that you made it better, and see if you can protect it under law.

In contrast, to those that copy something out of laziness, lack of original thought, envy and desperation, the proof wlll always manifest itself in the final product, and the consumer decision on quality. Counterfeit products are never as good as the originals in our experience.