Published: Fri, April 27, 2018
Medical | By Bryan Strickland

Monkeys can not own a copyright, judges rule in infamous monkey selfie lawsuit

Monkeys can not own a copyright, judges rule in infamous monkey selfie lawsuit

"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.

PETA's 2015 suit against Slater sought financial control of the photographs for the benefit of Naruto.

In 2016, a federal judge ruled that the macaque monkey can not be declared the copyright owner of the photos. After their claim was dismissed, they appealed, but subsequently reached a settlement with Slater in September a year ago.

Naruto, the macaque who lived on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, became famous in 2011 when he picked up an unattended camera and started snapping selfies, peering into the camera with a wide, big-toothed grin.

An initial court ruling dismissed PETA's case, but Slater still agreed last October to donate 25 percent of the earnings from the picture to charities that protect the habitat of macaque monkeys.

In January 2016 a San Francisco Judge ruled that an animal can not claim copyrights for images.

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.

PETA "failed" as a friend to Naruto, the court said.

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The court has also ruled Slater is entitled to compensation for his legal feels, with the district court now working out how much he should get.

Naruto "lacked statutory standing" for such legal move, they said, as the law reserved that power for humans.

"I was making no money from photography, which is a hard industry to begin with", Slater, 53, said. Slater later argued that his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., owned worldwide commercial rights to the photos.

PETA appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit.

The absence of a next friend doesn't necessarily doom Naruto's lawsuit, the 9th Circuit held, so it went on to address the merits of the case.

But the court refused, saying a decision in this "developing area of the law" would help guide lower courts and considerable public resources had been spent on the case.

The 9th Circuit didn't appear to buy the fact that PETA filed its motion to dismiss Naruto's appeal because the settlement was reached.

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