The Associated Press asked Ellen DeGeneres for permission to share her now-famous Oscar selfie with subscribers to their photo service. But does Ellen have the right to give it away? Who owns that picture?
Um, well, I guess Ellen does, right? After all, she took it with her camera, right?
Not so fast, cowboy.
The problem, according to Los Angeles-area entertainment lawyer Ethan Kirschner, whom The Wire also spoke with, is that DeGeneres might not own the copyright on the photo. “Historically,” Kirschner told me, “it’s always been the person who pressed the shutter who’s technically the person that owns copyright.” In part, that’s a function of the age of the art of photography; the idea that everyone has his own camera in his pocket is a fairly new one. When the courts were trying to figure out who gets copyright, they “had to assign copyright to someone; they gave it to the person that literally pressed the button.”
In the case of the Oscare selfie, that person wasn’t DeGeneres — it was actor Bradley Cooper.
Really interesting discussion of copyright.