Monkey loses copyright battle - a victory for common sense

In September 2017, we reported that the legal battle between a man and a beast was finally over, and that photographer David Slater had reached a settlement to drop the case with the animal rights group PETA, who has sued him on behalf of Naruto, a monkey, at the centre of a copyright battle regarding a selfie that Naruto took on Slater’s camera. As part of the settlement, Slater agreed to donate 25% of his profits from the photos to charities to protect Naruto.

But it looks like we called that one a little prematurely. And only now has it finally been settled. A US appeals court, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, upheld the ruling made by a lower court, reaching the same conclusion. The final ruling on the matter is that copyright law in the USA does not allow animals to file copyright infringement lawsuits. As reported on the PDN website, the court decided to reject the request to have the case dismissed. It stated that it wanted to set a legal precedent for any future cases. And that precedent has now been established. It’s a win for humans, and a defeat for any budding animal photographers: people can file copyright lawsuits, animals can’t.

[T]he Copyright Act does not expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement suits,” the three-judge panel in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously confirmed.

PETA has not yet decided whether they’ll appeal this latest ruling, but its lawyer, Jeff Kerr told TIME magazine that Naturo should not be treated differently from any other creator of a work simply because he is not human.