London - If she’d known how much mischief she would cause, her grin would probably have been even wider.

For this monkey’s famous selfie has sparked a row over who owns the rights to it. Wildlife photographer David Slater, whose camera it was taken on, is threatening to sue a website that allows the image to be downloaded for free.

But the Wikimedia site is refusing to remove the photograph. The site – part of the Wikipedia empire – insists the 49-year-old does not own the copyright – because the monkey pressed the shutter. Mr Slater was photographing crested black macaques on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, in 2011 when they began to investigate his equipment.

The female appeared to check her appearance in the lens, then grabbed the camera and began snapping away, taking hundreds of pictures including the selfie.

Without Mr Slater’s permission, Wikimedia has put the picture on the Wikimedia Commons site – a collection of more than 22 million free-to-use images and video files.

Its link to the photo claims: “This file is in the public domain because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.”

Mr Slater, of Coleford, Gloucestershire, plans to sue the US-based company for up to $30 000 (about R300 000). He said: “I own the photo but because the monkey pressed the trigger and took the photo, they’re claiming the monkey owns the copyright.

“There’s a lot more to copyright than who pushes the trigger. I set up the shot, I was behind all the components in taking that image.

“Wikimedia is encouraging those who would normally have paid to use the image not to. I’ve lost tens of thousands of pounds.” - Daily Mail