Court Rules in Favor of Photographer as "Monkey Selfie" Saga Ends

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This case dates back to 2011 when British nature photographer was on a shoot in the Tangkoko reserve in Indonesia, and a crested macaque monkey named Naruto got hold of his camera and started snapping pictures of itself.

PETA didn't seem particularly close to Naruto even though it sued Slater as a "next friend" of the monkey, the court noted.

Peta had argued the monkey was the legal owner of all photos he took.

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.

"We believe the court's decision discriminates against him, simply because he is not human", said PETA Attorney Jeff Kerr.

The viral selfie taken by Naruto the macaque monkey using photographer David J. Slater's camera is displayed at the Museum of Selfies, in Glendale, Calif., at a March 29 exhibition. But the 9th Circuit still chose to rule in the important case. The photos, captured when the monkey grabbed Slater's camera, posed and clicked, became an instant hit, appearing in newspapers, magazines, websites and on TV shows around the world.

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"While Congress and the president can extend the protection of law to animals as well as humans, there is no indication that they did so in the Copyright Act", U.S. District Judge William Orrick wrote in his original ruling in 2016.

We feel compelled to note that PETA's deficiencies in this regard go far beyond its failure to plead a significant relationship with Naruto.

Slater and PETA announced in September they 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.

In a separate opinion on the long-running case, 9th Circuit Judge N. Randy Smith called PETA's lawsuit "frivolous" and said he would have dismissed the case on other grounds.

But the appeals court refused, saying a decision in this "developing area of the law" would help guide lower courts and considerable public resources had been spent on the case.

"The Copyright Act does not expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement suits under the statute", Judge Carlos T. Bea wrote in the three-judge panel's opinion.