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No, A Monkey Can't Copyright His Selfies, Federal Appeals Court Rules

Monkey can't sue to copyright protect selfie, court rules

Judge Carlos Bea wrote the majority opinion.

"We conclude that this monkey-and all animals, since they are not human-lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act", the ruling said. The judge said the law reserved that power only for humans.

It was not clear how much the photograph has been worth to Slater, who previously said that fewer than 100 copies of his self-published book had been sold, despite the publicity. PETA was represented by Irell & Manella partner David Schwarz.

In fact, the court claimed PETA essentially abandoned Naruto. U.S. District Judge William Orrick III of the Northern District of California ruled in 2016 that animals have no standing to assert copyright authorship under Ninth Circuit law.

The monkey's smiling selfie, which was shot during a trip Slater took to Indonesia, made headlines and is now being featured in a Museum of Selfies exhibit in Glendale, California.

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Naruto took the selfie way back in 2011 using a camera owned by photographer David Slater when he visited Tangkoko reserve on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. According to Slater, he left his camera equipment on the ground and the monkey picked it up and snapped the photo. Orrick ruled past year that, under Ninth Circuit case law, animals do not have legal standing to bring lawsuits unless expressly provided for by statute. "Naruto allegedly took several photographs of himself (the "Monkey Selfies") with Slater's camera".

Animal rights group PETA filed the suit on behalf of the monkey, saying he earned profits from Slater's book. To make matters worse, PETA didn't seem to have a lot invested in the case, since Slater pointed out they mixed up the monkeys.

Following oral arguments, Slater and PETA announced in September that they had reached a settlement under which Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of any future revenue from the images to charities dedicated to protecting crested macaques in Indonesia.

The 9th Circuit also said refusing to dismiss the case "prevents the parties from manipulating" the precedent set by the judge.

Seriously PETA has been trying to fight to grant copyright to a monkey that wasn't even in the photo. Were he capable of recognizing this abandonment, we wonder whether Naruto might initiate an action for breach of confidential relationship against his (former) next friend, PETA, for its failure to pursue his interests before its own.

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