If you have a photo leak out that you would rather not have people use, if it wasn’t a selfie, you can’t control it. If you did not take the photo, you do not own the copyright. You cannot legally demand that people who post copies of it take it down, and you will not have standing in court if you try to sue. So let’s look at the recent wild photo that made headlines:
Gimme the copyright or it’ll
be Planet of the Apes, okay?
Well, what were you expecting? This is the famous selfie taken by a monkey who snatched the camera from a nature photographer. (I assume it came out so perfectly because the monkey was fascinated by the camera action, so it stared straight into it.) Since the photographer himself did not take the picture, this is public domain. And since the monkey is an animal, it can’t own the copyright either—so says the Copyright Office:
“The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants. Likewise, the Office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings, although the Office may register a work where the application or the deposit copy state that the work was inspired by a divine spirit,”—draft report, “Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition.”
This can easily be used as a plot twist. If a werewolf or an angel takes a significant photo or video, there is no copyright. It could be something crucial, or something cringe-worthy—I can’t find the video of Al Gore dancing around to “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” but you get the idea.