Ketzel Cotel 1992-2011

Ketzel the composing cat.Before anyone else emails the IPKat to tell him, let him tell you: yes, he does know that Ketzel the cat (right) is dead.  This sad piece of news, which was broken by the New York Times's City Room blog on Tuesday, was communicated to him by fellow blogger and copyright commentator Howard Knopf, whose piece on Excess Copyright you can read here.

The death of any cat is a misfortune on this part of the blogosphere, where feline fortunes are followed with affection and concern.  The demise of a cat who created an "exquisite atonal miniature" in the style of Anton Webern is a matter of sadness for us all.  Ketzel, who composed and received royalties in her professional name of Ketzel Cotel, is said to have applied for membership of ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Pussycats Publishers).  The IPKat hopes that Ketzel's end was more peaceful than that of Webern, who was accidentally shot by an American soldier when he nipped outside during a curfew to enjoy a cigar.

On an equally serious note, the question whether animals are entitled to copyright in their compositions is one which has been aired at some length in recent days: in "Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Get Copyright Too", the IPKat's friend and fellow blogger Aurelia J. Schultz posted this item on the 1709 Blog concerning a report in the Daily Mail that a black macaque [Merpel says, that sounds more like a cocktail than a monkey] had taken a photographer's camera on which she took some photographs. No doubt readers of this blog will have their own opinions on this topic.
Ketzel Cotel 1992-2011 Ketzel Cotel 1992-2011 Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. If a monkey picking at a typewriter were to randomly recreate a Shakespearian work, since it is clearly not copying, would it be entitled to copyright protection for life+70?

  2. I seem to recall that A P Pedrick's cat Ginger was mentioned in the discussion of the conception of several of his inventions, although I don't think Ginger was ever identified as a co-inventor.

  3. I seem to recall A. P. Pedrick's cat applying for a declaration that it was not an inventor or co-inventor of any of its owner's hair-brained schemes.

  4. If Merpel isn't a co-author with Jeremy of many of his finest blog entries, it's clear that she's at least his, ahem, muse.

  5. Dr Factor - even if the monkey could get copyright protection, this wouldn't be of much use, as anyone could simply copy Shakespeare's version rather than the monkey's.

  6. In the law module of the old QMW course I learned that English law only recognises legal personality and property. If something is not an actual person or a company having legal personality, then it is property.

    Only a "person" can be an author, so [with limited exceptions] anything created by an animal, which, not being a person, must fall under the category of "property", has no "author" under copyright law.

    There are many instances of works of art having been created by animals [Google "Coco the chimp" for an example of abstract paintings by a chimp outselling works by contemporary famous artists]. No copyright can be associated with such works as the requirement for the author to be a "person" cannot be fulfilled, whereas corresponding abstract paintings made by a [human] toddler would qualify.

    I think the only situation where works created by animals would be capable of qualifying for copyright protection are photographs covered by the 1956 Copyright Act. However, the copyright would not belong to the animal. It would belong to the person who owned the medium on which the photograph was taken at the time it was taken, deemed to be the author in accordance with Section 48(1), Interpretation.

  7. That should have been "Congo" , whose art sold for $25,000 not "Coco" .

    Not to be confused with Koko the Gorilla, another primate artist.


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