|Further option: e- Grumpy Cat?|
Monday, 3 March 2014
Now that the Oscars have been awarded, there is something left to reflect upon besides why Leonardo DiCaprio seems unable to bring home one of those precious little statues.
No need to say that it is a copyright-related question and concerns what has become the most retweeted tweet ever, this being Ellen Degeneres's all-star selfie featuring Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o [who was not just awarded the Oscar for best supporting actress, but also the prestigious Kataward for best dressed winner], Kevin Spacey and Jared Leto [OMG: don't you love his hair and dream that yours looked the same?].
Looking at the video documenting the taking of this selfie, it is apparent that the person who pressed the shutter was most-blue-eyed man on earth Bradley Cooper. Ellen DeGeneres however made arrangements for the photo, asked Bradley to take it and eventually published it on Twitter.
The Associated Press (AP) asked Ellen for permission to reproduce the photograph in question, as if she was the copyright owner. But: is she?
Possible copyright owners could in fact be one of the following:
a- Ellen DeGeneres;
b- Bradley Cooper as the actual author of the selfie;
c- Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper and also the other subjects portrayed. This could be so under the doctrine of joint authorship, if one argued that all of them had "the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole";
d- The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. This could be so under the doctrine of works made for hire, although one might wonder whether taking that selfie was "a work prepared by an employee [Ellen DeGeneres as Oscars host] within the scope of his or her employment" as per Section 101 of the US Copyright Act."
According to The Wire - What Matters Now [indeed], the AP is probably safe in getting sign-off from DeGeneres, but it might be worth checking with Cooper's people as well.
But what do IPKat readers think? Who owns the copyright to the most retweeted tweet (and photograph) in history?
In all this, Merpel wonders whether copyright subsists in this selfie at all, ie whether the selfie is sufficiently original. But she is probably too tired not to think that – yes – there is copyright in this photograph.