Animal Rights and Copyrights -- Zoo Sells Paintings Created By Panda Bear

Panda In A Monkey Selfie Copyright Situation?

A Vienna zoo has made headlines around the world by offering for sale paintings created by their resident panda. For approximately $500 a piece, enthusiastic art aficionados may purchase abstract paintings created by panda bear Yang Yang, an eighteen year old panda at the Vienna Schoenbrunn Zoo.

Who Owns the Copyright to Paintings Created by Panda Bear?

With some likening Yang Yang’s art to Jackson Pollock pieces, the zoo’s profit off of Yang Yang’s art inevitably raises the specter of the recent copyright law/intellectual property question—who really owns the copyright to the art pieces created by panda bear Yang Yang? Yang Yang clearly could not create the art without the assistance of zookeepers whom provide the panda with the paintbrush, canvas, and easel, which often comes in the form of the zookeepers themselves.  Yet, undeniably, it is still Yang Yang that actually wields the paintbrush and creates the work.  As such, the ownership of the copyright becomes muddled because the U.S. Copyright Act does not provide finite guidance on whether ownership of a work may extend to animals.

Read more about animal rights and copyrights.


Darin M. Klemchuk is founder of Klemchuk LLP, a litigation, intellectual property, and transactional law firm located in Dallas, Texas. He also co-founded Project K, a charitable movement devoted to changing the world one random act of kindness at a time, and publishes Thriving Attorney, a blog dedicated to exploring the business of the practice of law, productivity and performance for attorneys, and other topics such as law firm leadership and management, law firm culture, and business development for attorneys.

Click to learn more about Darin M. Klemchuk's law practice as an intellectual property lawyer.

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