‘Monkey Selfie’ Lawsuit Ends With Settlement Between PETA, Photographer

Naruto, a macaque monkey, took this self-portrait in 2011 with a camera owned by photographer David Slater. It has been the subject of a years-long copyright battle.
David Slater via Wikimedia Commons
Back in 2011, Naruto was just an anonymous macaque in the jungles of Indonesia. On one particular day, however, the photogenic primate happened upon a wildlife photographer’s camera and snapped a “monkey selfie.”

Whether the act was intentional or a quite-too-literal instance of monkeying around, only the grinning primate knows for certain. But it raised a complicated question: Who owns the images Naruto took, the monkey or the man?

It also started a years-long saga in which the U.S. Copyright Office and even Wikipedia weighed in.

On Monday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced a settlement with photographer David Slater, ending a lawsuit it filed on Naruto’s behalf. Under the deal, Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of future revenue from the photos to groups that protect crested macaques and their habitat in Indonesia. Both sides also asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “to dismiss the case and throw out a lower-court decision that said animals cannot own copyrights,” The Associated Press reports.

“PETA and David Slater agree that this case raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for nonhuman animals, a goal that they both support, and they will continue their respective work to achieve this goal,” read a joint statement on the group’s website.

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