Does pressing shutter define authorship?

Started Aug 6, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Does pressing shutter define authorship?
Aug 6, 2014

Is the very act of pressing the shutter button constitutes authorship of a photo?

The today’s news about the monkey self-photo makes me wonder...

Consider this situation:

I set the camera on a tripod and adjust everything – framing, light, exposure, etc.

Then I ask another person, a non-photographer, to “press this button here”, what he/she does, without even looking into the viewfinder. I believe that in this case I should be considered the author of the photo, because the very act of pressing the button does not contain any elements of creative process.

If in the very same scenario, the same person looks into the viewfinder and makes a conscious decision to press or not to press the shutter button depending on liking / not liking the composition, then this person may be considered an author.

In the monkey case, David Slater attached a wide angle lens and, likely, set the camera to auto-focus and auto-exposure. The monkey pressing the shutter means nothing; it was just a “force of nature”.

Another scenario: I want to take a photo of a rare bird visiting a bird feeder next to my window. To achieve that, I set up a jig which includes a motion detector triggered by the bird, activating the shutter release, even when I am not at home. The resulted photos are made by a “force of nature”, without direct human involvement at the moment of the exposure. Yet, hardly anybody would question my authorship of the resulted photos. What is the difference between this situation and one with the monkey?

Sorry for a long post…

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