Pennsylvania Elk Cam

The Pennsylvania Game Commission posted a link to its live elk cam a couple weeks ago and it’s finally becoming interesting…lots of bulls bugling this afternoon. Thought I’d share in case anyone is curious.


Cool, thanks for posting. So – just hypothetically – if I observe elk or any other species via a live cam and get a screen grab pic, is that a legitimate observation for iNat purposes? ;-) It’s not necessarily different than a camera trap record (although it’s not my camera and I’m not in Pennsylvania).


I wondered the very same thing! When I posted the link here I was watching four bulls in real-time and thought, I wonder if this counts as an observation?

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No, you don’t have copyrights.

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Of course…the image(s) belong to the PA Game Commission, I suppose. That’s okay; I was too busy watching the bulls and listening to others’ bugling to take a screen shot - but it did cross my mind to wonder if it counted as an observation.

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Technically, the images don’t belong to anyone and aren’t copyrighted since there is no human authorship or creativity involved, although this is untested in U.S. courts. (See for discussion.) So there probably isn’t a copyright issue, but I’m still not sure the observation would be in line with iNaturalist guidelines. The Getting Started page says “please only post your own personal observations”. Is a screenshot from a webcam a “personal observation”?

Screenshots of a copyrighted video are not allowed, it’s not your webcam, that is what matters, it’s not a first topic with such question, and iNat stuff already answereed on that.

I doubt these images are copyrighted. Many government documents are not copyright, federally (17 U.S.C. § 101) but states may also have laws about what can be copyright. There’s also the issue of not being able to copyright basic facts. There’s no human creative input for an automated camera.

But… copyright aside, I don’t think images from someone else’s game camera are an interaction with an organism. Not something I would ever consider putting into iNat.

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Well, if it was your camera, would you say it’s not yours data, but everyone else’s? I have no idea about USA laws, so maybe it is not protected by law, but I wouldn’t let someone else upload pics from camera I’d set and prepare, it really sounds odd.

PA Game Commission is a taxpayer-funded state agency, so it’s quite possible that the imagery is not copyrighted. In my state, agency-generated imagery (like a pic of an animal) can probably be used for noncommercial applications and with proper credit to the source. Basically like creative commons.

But it was just a thought exercise. I wasn’t planning to start posting elk pics from Pennsylvania.


You’re not a government agency or gov’t employee doing gov’t work. The products of your camera are yours.

Looking at the posted webcam… seems to be setup by a private contractor. They may hold the copyright or have transferred those rights to the state as part of the contract. The state can decide what to do with the transferred copyright.

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So, it should be checked then, I guess, if those cameras fall under copyrighted gov stuff or not as some other docs, right? Cause my husband works in a gov facility here and here it would belong to an institution that set those cameras (they wouldn’t be set by gov itself) or to scientists who set them.

So…this topic kind of became a bit complex (regarding copyrights, etc.) but I thought I would update it and let everyone know that unfortunately, because of human beings who continually trespassed into the elk range, the camera was taken down. It was pretty absurd to watch…at least three times I witnessed individuals walking within a few hundred yards of elk bulls, taking photographs and shouting back & forth with others in their party. Finally, for the safety of the humans and the elk, our game commission decided to take down the camera. Honestly, I cannot understand how taking down the camera will aid in the issue, but I thought I would update this post in case anyone had decided to check it out and wondered why it was no longer live.

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Too bad. There’s always some stupid humans who will ruin something good for everyone else.

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