Judge Won’t Allow Monkey to Hold Copyright Over Selfie


One of the selfies took by Naruto without any help

San Francisco Judge won’t allow monkey to hold copyright over selfie, dismissing the suit PETA filed on the monkey’s behalf.

According to People for Ethical Treatment of the Animals (PETA), Naruto – an Indonesian crested macaque should hold copyright over a series of selfies, no matter who owned the equipment he used.

However, Judge William Orrick did not agree with PETA, saying that according to the federal copyright law animals aren’t allowed to claim copyright protection, arguing in favour of David Slater – the camera owner and of Blurb Inc. self-publishing software.

Slater and Blurb filed a motion for dismissal of the lawsuit. At the hearing for dismissal judge Orrick said he cannot see the copyright go beyond humans and he stated his intention to dismiss the lawsuit.

However Orrick claims that PETA will be allowed to file amended lawsuit if the organization wishes to do that. David Schwarz told judge Orrick that he will file a new lawsuit. Outside the courtroom Schwartz declared to the media that before deciding upon the revisions he needs to wait for Orrick to issue the written dismissal and study it.

Naruto lives with other macaques on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in a rainforest reserve. He took the disputed selfies back in 2011 with Slater’s camera which he found in the reserve. According to PETA Naruto deserves copyright since he took the photographs by himself without any help from Slater through actions that have been described by the animal rights group as “purposeful and voluntary”.

PETA claims that Naruto was used to see cameras at the hundreds of thousands of tourists and also professional photographers who go to the reserve and take pictures of the wildlife.

Naruto has pushed the shutter by himself multiple times and according to his supporters he understood what he was doing by hearing the shutter’s noise and seeing his reflection change in the camera lens.

On the other side Slater argues that he has been responsible for setting up the camera after he took photos of the macaques during several days and that he owned the camera used by Naruto to take the pictures.

In 2014 Slater publish Naruto’s selfies in Wildlife Personalities book which he developed using Blurb’s software. The copyright of the photos published in the book is marked as belonging to Slater.

In the lawsuit PETA was arguing that Naruto should be declared the author of the photographs and all the profits from selling the pictures should be returned to him, being administered by PETA and Antje Engelhardt, a German primatologist.

Image source: wikipedia