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Horse photobombs prize-winning selfie; beast's owner seethes

Technically Incorrect: The horse's owner says she gave no consent for the photo that a neighbor entered in a contest and then won.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Bellis is clearly proud of his picture.

David Bellis/ Facebook screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

This is a tale about human beings and a horse.

You must decide who comes out of it better.

David Bellis was walking on a public path behind his house in Prestatyn, Wales, when he took a selfie with his three-year-old son Jacob. In the background, however, was a horse called Betty.

At the moment the picture was taken, Betty decided to offer what some might consider a smile, others a whinny and still others a gurn.

Bellis liked the picture. I know because it's now his Facebook profile picture. Who couldn't like this picture? It's sweet and amusing.

Indeed, as Wales's Daily Post reports, it won a prize in a holiday company's "Made Me Smile" competition. The prize was a vacation worth 2,000 pounds (around $2,880).

Enter Nicola Mitchell. She owns Betty. She bought it for her 16-year-old daughter Katelyne. She also reportedly believes that Betty didn't give her consent to have the picture taken and neither did she nor Katelyne.

Could this be something to do with the 2,000 pound prize? Actually, yes.

"I was really annoyed to hear he had won a 2,000-pound holiday and had used a picture of our horse without our permission," Mitchell told the Daily Post. "He should have asked for our consent.

"It's not like it's just 100 pounds. Two thousand pounds is a lot of money and would go quite a long way for a family."

Bellis told the Post the episode caught him off guard.

"I never thought of asking anyone for consent for the horse," Bellis said. "It was clearly viewable from the road, so why would I? I just don't understand it at all."

For her part, Katelyne Mitchell said on Facebook: "No we didn't want half of the money as we knew it was a voucher for a holiday. It was the fact that he had entered her in a competition for his own benefit knowing that he would get money for it."

Thomson Holidays, which organized the competition, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did David Bellis. However, the Denbighshire Free Press reported that the company said Bellis will get the prize.

This all might remind some of the kerfuffle in the US when the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tried to sue on behalf of a macaque monkey that allegedly took its own selfie. A judge threw out the suit.

The law in this case is pretty clear, according to British legal expert Wayne Benyon.

"A photographer automatically owns copyright in the image and does not require permission of the horse (or its owner) to take the photo -- much in the same way as photographers don't require permission to take pictures of celebrities when they are out in public," he told the Daily Mail.

Still, if the horse could talk, what would it say? I suspect it might be either "Hey, please people. Give it a rest."

Or, perhaps: "Hey, got any hay?"