Monkey can't own the copyright to its famous selfie, appeals court rules

Monkey can't sue to copyright protect selfie, court rules
Monkey selfie suit rejected in US Federal Court
Author

25 April, 2018

The monkey's smiling selfie, which was shot during a trip Slater took to Indonesia, made headlines and is now being featured in a Museum of Selfies exhibit in Glendale, California.

The legal battle over the viral monkey selfie is finally over.

PETA's 2015 suit against David Slater sought financial control of the photographs - including a now-famous selfie of the monkey's toothy grin - for the benefit of the animal named Naruto.

File photo - A print of a monkey selfie is on display during a VIP media preview ahead of the opening of The Museum of Selfies in Glendale, California, U.S., March 29, 2018.

"Naruto was a seven-year-old crested macaque that lived-and may still live-in a reserve on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia", the court explained in its ruling.

More news: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sean Hannity?

In January 2016 a San Francisco Judge ruled that an animal can not claim copyrights for images. The photos, captured when the monkey grabbed Slater's camera, posed and clicked, became an instant hit, appearing in newspapers, magazines, websites and on TV shows around the world.

PETA's target was wildlife photographer David J. Slater, who owned the camera Naruto used, published Naruto's photos in a book and claimed the copyright. As for PETA, the organization's general counsel told the WSJ that the ruling "emphasizes what PETA has argued all along - that [Naruto] is discriminated against simply because he's a nonhuman animal".

PETA said that, while the court reaffirmed that animals have the constitutional right to bring a case to federal court when they've been wronged, the opinion missed the point. PETA then appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit. Orrick ruled previous year that, under Ninth Circuit case law, animals do not have legal standing to bring lawsuits unless expressly provided for by statute.

PETA reached a settlement with Slater in October, requiring him to donate 25 percent of the earnings from his book to charities "that protect the habitat of Naruto and other crested macaques in Indonesia", as PETA described it. The Hollywood Reporter, the Recorder and the Associated Press have stories.

The court found that PETA couldn't represent Naruto as a "next friend" because it couldn't establish it had a relationship with the monkey allowing to serve as a legal guardian in a court proceeding and because current law didn't grant animals such legal representation.


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