Case Updates

28 July 2016 – PETA has filed an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

18 February 2016 – The district court dismissed the complaint with prejudice for lack of standing under the Copyright Act and entered judgment.

Monkey Selfie

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In 2011 a wildlife photographer David J. Slater had left his camera unattended in an Indonesian forest. A crested macaque (monkey) called Naruto, snapped some pictures of himself and the photographer later published them. PETA sued the photographer for infringement on Naruto’s copyright as the author of the photos. David and his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., both claim copyright ownership of the photographs.

In January 2016, a federal judge dismissed the monkey selfie suit, finding a monkey does not have standing to pursue a lawsuit. This case presents an issue of first impression: Whether human authorship is required for protection under the Copyright Act (Read the Appeal brief in full here)

PETA argues that Naruto the monkey is the ‘author’ of the works and that nothing in the Copyright Act limits its application to human authors.

If this lawsuit succeeds, it will be the first time that a nonhuman animal has been declared the owner of property rather than a piece of property himself or herself. It will also be the first time that a right has been extended to a nonhuman animal beyond just the basic necessities of food, shelter, water, and veterinary care.

PETA is seeking the court’s permission to administer and protect Naruto’s copyright in the “monkey selfies,” without compensation, with all proceeds to be used for the benefit of Naruto and his community.

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