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

Marsha Scott
April 25, 2018

The monkey is Naruto who took these selfies with wildlife photographer David Slater's camera. Engelhardt dropped out of the case on appeal, and the Ninth Circuit judges sharply questioned at the July hearing whether PETA could establish next friend status on its own-and whether a monkey can legally hold a copyright. And even though both sides reached a settlement (Slater will donate 25% of future income derived from the Naruto photos to protect habitats where monkeys like Naruto live), the 9th Circuit Court felt that this was an issue so important for the future of selfie ownership, that it decided to make a ruling anyway.

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. They're not the only one to contest the ownership of the photo (*cough*Wikimedia*cough*), but the legal battles got to the point where Slater was considering "packing it all in".

The unanimous, three-judge panel upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit by PETA against a photographer, David Slater, whose camera was used by a crested macaque to take the photos in 2011. Next friend is generally used when a person acts on behalf of another party in filing a lawsuit against another person during a legal proceeding.

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"We conclude that this monkey-and all animals, since they are not human-lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act", the ruling said. As part of the settlement, 25% of future proceeds from "any or all of the monkey selfies" will be donated to charities dedicated to protecting crested macaques in Indonesia.

A settlement was reached out of court in the case a year ago. Judge N. Randy Smith concurred separately. ("Monkey see, monkey sue is not good law", noted that ruling). "Were he capable of recognizing this abandonment, we wonder whether Naruto might initiate a breach of confidential relationship against his (former) next friend, PETA, for its failure to pursue his interests before its own". "In the wake of PETA's proposed dismissal, Naruto is left without an advocate, his supposed "friend" having abandoned Naruto's substantive claims in what appears to be an effort to prevent the publication of a decision adverse to PETA's institutional interests", Bea wrote.

Neither the photographer, David Slater, nor Naruto the selfie-taking monkey own the photographs.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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