Court rules on whether monkey that took selfie can sue for copyright

A monkey that took a selfie using a wildlife photographer’s camera cannot sue for copyright, a US court has ruled.

Naruto, a seven-year-old crested macaque, snapped a picture of himself using a camera belonging to Brit David Slater.

Animal rights group, PETA, filed a lawsuit in 2015 that sought to give the monkey copyright over the selfie.

Now the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled against Naruto and PETA after concluding American copyright law does not “expressly authorise animals to file copyright infringement suits”.

“We must determine whether a monkey may sue humans, corporations, and companies for damages and injunctive relief arising from claims of copyright infringement,” Judge Carlos Bea wrote.

“We conclude that this monkey – and all animals since they are not human – lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act.”

The picture was taken when Slater set up a camera in an Indonesian forest,

and Naruto somehow tripped the camera himself while the photographer was not at the scene.

PETA had sued the Brit when he sold some of the photos in 2015.

They argued that Naruto owned the rights to the photos, calling the images “original works of authorship.”

The group’s initial lawsuit was dismissed on the grounds a monkey lacks standing to sue over copyright.

But PETA appealed, arguing the US Copyright Act doesn’t specify that a work’s author must be human.

Both sides eventually settled, with Slater agreeing to donate 25 percent of future income from the Naruto photos to protect habitats where crested macaques live.

But the 9th Circuit still decided to rule in the important case.

In the ruling, the court appeared to take a swipe at PETA saying in a footnote the group “seems to employ Naruto as an unwitting pawn in its ideological goals.”

PETA’s general counsel, Jeff Kerr, said in a statement the monkey had been discriminated against “simply because he’s a nonhuman animal.”

Slater, of Chepstow, south Wales, said he welcomed the decision, adding the lawsuit has taken an emotional and financial toll on him.

The income that he receives from the selfie is “embarrassingly low”, he added.

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