Hero orang-utan sparks copyright row


The film of the dramatic rescue of a drowning chick by an orang-utan at Dublin Zoo has sparked a copyright row.

Michael McGrane from Ashbourne, Co Meath, filmed the Bornean orang-utan called Jorong fishing a distressed baby moorhen out of a pond in its enclosure with a leaf four years ago.

The clip only become an internet sensation in the last week after being sold to a number of British national newspapers by a Birmingham-based news agency called News Team International.

The four-minute long clip was filmed by Mr McGrane on his mobile phone in 2007. It has now been watched by hundreds of thousands of Youtube users but until now its source has been confused.

The Daily Mail, one of the most popular websites in the UK, posted the video and an accompanying story on its site earlier this week, saying aid both the location and the cameraman were unknown. It also said copyright on the clip belonged to News Team International.

Speaking to The Irish Times this morning, Mr McGrane said he was annoyed he had not been credited as the source of the video and that copyright on it was being claimed by someone else.

He contacted the Ray D'Arcy Show on Today FM this morning to air his grievances. He only became aware it had gone viral by accident.

Last Friday, a news website called clickLiverpool.com contacted him seeking his permission to use the footage. He agreed but on Tuesday the site got in touch again to say they no longer had any interest in it as it had appeared on the Mail site.

“I didn’t get any request from either the Mail or NTI to use this and there’s no reference to me in the article,” Mr McGrane said.

“They did make it sound a lot more dramatic than it actually is,” he said.

“They claimed it had been filmed last week at an unknown zoo by an unknown cameraman and had all these references to the orang-utan giving the duck the kiss of life. I actually shot it four years ago. I was just trying out my new phone and there was no kiss of life.”

The news agency which sold the clip said it would be willing to split any revenue generated by it with Mr McGrane.

“The clip was available online so we are under no obligation to pay him anything but as a gesture of goodwill we would be more than happy to split the revenue with him,” a spokesman said. He said that it had come across the clip last week and knew that had it not claimed it, it would have been distributed by a rival organisation.

Mark Newman is a solicitor specialises in digital media and intellectual property rights and said that Mr McGrane was the owner of the copyright and he could pursue NTI for all revenue generated. "They did not have the right to sell it and have infringed his copyright. It is as simple as that."