A case of “monkey see, monkey do,” brought British nature photographer David Slater a lot of attention in 2011. He was in Indonesia, photographing crested black macaques, when one of the animals came up to the equipment, grabbed a camera, and took hundreds of selfies. Most were blurry but one close-up of a grinning macaque made headlines around the world. Now Slater is suing Wikimedia because the organization won’t take the famous photograph off Wikimedia Commons, a collection of more than 22 million images free for anyone to use. The Wikimedia editors claim because the monkey pressed the shutter, it owns the copyright. Slater disagrees: “A monkey pressed the button, but I did all the setting up.” He called photography “an expensive profession that’s being encroached upon.” He said to get the shot, he had to pay £2,000 (about $3,400) for the trip to Indonesia, and £5,000 (about $8,400) for his equipment, insurance, and computer software. Now he’ll face an estimated £10,000 (about $17,000) legal bill for taking the matter to court.
Two New Hampshire boys faced a strange request when traveling home after a bagpipe competition in Canada: relinquish your pipes. The U.S. prohibits importing ivory collected after 1976. Though the boys had certificates proving their ivory was older, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized the pipes, but not before the boys gathered every other part of their instruments and left the pipes so no one could make a full set out of what was left. “This has been an awful headache,” said mother Lezlie Webster, whose 17-year-old son Campbell has been playing his 1936 pipes for 13 years. The boys took action, collecting more than 3,000 signatures on an online petition. They also contacted New Hampshire’s congressional delegation and finally got their pipes back. Yesterday, they left for the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Campbell’s ailing father, who was the 9th Sovereign Piper to Her Majesty the Queen of England Elizabeth II, gave him his pipes. “You’re judged on your pipes,” he said. “And you can’t find bagpipes like these anymore.”
5-year-old takes a break from politics
A 5-year-old boy’s run as mayor ended Sunday. Robert “Bobby” Tufts lost his bid for a third consecutive term as mayor of Dorset, Minn., a tiny tourist town with no formal city government and a population no larger than 28. Bobby was only 3 when he was first “elected” mayor in 2012. “It was fun, but it’s time to pass on the vote,” Bobby told the Associated Press Monday. His accomplishments as mayor included raising money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities and declaring ice cream top of the food pyramid. Now Bobby can enjoy catching, rather than throwing, the candy at the annual Taste of Dorset festival. He suggested his little brother could run: “I’m gonna let James do it. He’s 2.” The new mayor is 16-year-old Eric Mueller, who will be a high school junior this fall. People can vote as many times as they like for $1 a vote. The proceeds go toward organizing the festival.
The value of a two-letter word
Scrabble will release the fifth edition of The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary on Monday. It will contain 5,000 new words, including lingo often heard among younger crowds: chillax, buzzkill, and geocache. But for Scrabble fanatics like Robin Pollock Daniel, the champion of the North American Scrabble Players Association, the new two-letter words are far more exciting. “Te” as a variant of “ti,” the seventh tone on the musical scale, is an addition she’s particularly thrilled about: “Being able to hook an ‘e’ underneath a ‘t’ means that I can play far more words. Sometimes you play parallel to a word and you’re making two-letter words along the way. I call those the amino acids of Scrabble,” explained Daniel, who practices two to four hours a day. To be in the 36-year-old book, a word must be found in a standard dictionary, can’t require capitalization, can’t have hyphens or apostrophes and can’t be an abbreviation. It also must be two to eight letters long. Daniel said the new words will make the game “more accessible to younger people, which we’re always looking for. All the technology words make it more attractive to them.”