Monkey Business: Court Rules Monkey Does Not Have Copyrights Over Selfies

Monkey can't sue to copyright protect selfie, court rules

Monkey selfie suit rejected in US Federal Court

"T$3 he Copyright Act does not expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement suits", the three-judge panel in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously confirmed yesterday. Nevertheless, PETA apparently obtained something from the settlement with Slater, although not anything that would necessarily go to Naruto: As "part of the arrangement", Slater agreed to pay a quarter of his earnings from the monkey-selfie book "to charities that protect the habitat of Naruto and other crested macaques in Indonesia".

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.

An appeals court in NY previous year rejected the chimpanzee case, saying there was no legal precedent for the animals being considered people, and their cognitive capabilities didn't mean they could be held legally accountable for their actions. Even though the photo is brilliant and unique, it's unlikely Slater will make that much off it since he doesn't own the copyright to it; the US Copyright ruled back in 2014 that humans can not claim copyright of "works created by nature, animals or plants". "PETA has failed to allege any facts to establish the required significant relationship between a next friend and a real party in interest and (2) because an animal can not be represented, under our laws, by a "next friend".

The case was brought in a US court because Slater's book was available for sale in the United States. PETA then appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit.

In 2016, a federal judge ruled that the macaque monkey can not be declared the copyright owner of the photos.

"Denying him (Naruto) the right to sue under the U.S. Copyright Act emphasizes what PETA has argued all along - that he is discriminated against simply because he's a nonhuman animal", Jeff Kerr, the general counsel to PETA, said in a statement.

They asked the 9th Circuit to dismiss the case and throw out Orrick's decision. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) brought the case acting as Naruto's "next friend", a legal status reserved for someone who acts in court on behalf of another who is unable to do so, usually because of a disability. The Hollywood Reporter, the Recorder and the Associated Press have stories.

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