Monkey Loses Court Fight Over Selfie Copyright to Human

Monkey Loses Court Fight Over Selfie Copyright to Human

Monkey Loses Court Fight Over Selfie Copyright to Human

The seven year row began when Naruto, a rare crested macaque who lives on a nature reserve, snapped a photo of himself using a camera that British photographer David Slater left mounted and unattended during a 2011 trip.

Another member of the panel, Judge N. Randy Smith, added a partially concurring opinion, arguing that the case should be dismissed because "next friend" status - the legal relationship PETA claimed to Naruto in its lawsuit on the monkey's behalf - can not apply to animals.

An appeals court in NY previous year rejected a case involving two chimpanzees, 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.

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. Since there is no animal clause in USA copyright law, the judges said that the animal could not own a copyright.

PETA and Slater subsequently filed a joint motion to dismiss the case, but the Ninth Circuit denied the motions. Nonetheless, we conclude that this monkey - and all animals, since they are not human - lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act.

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It wasn't immediately clear how or if Monday's ruling would affect the settlement. "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".

Circuit Judge N. Randy Smith concurred in part, but wrote a lengthy dissent centering on why next friend standing is a jurisdictional issue and arguing that federal courts didn't have jurisdiction to hear the case and the appeal should have been dismissed.

Smith adds that PETA also used Naruto as a "pawn to be manipulated on a chessboard larger than his own case".

Nevertheless, PETA still found a glimmer of victory in the 9th Circuit's ruling.

The court ruled Slater was entitled to attorneys' fees in the case and sent it back to the district court to determine the amount. Somehow, in the photographer's absence, the animal set off the camera's shutter creating what animal rights organization PETA calls a series of "selfies".

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