Monkey does not own rights to selfie Macaque monkey, Naruto's selfie snaps. (WikiMedia/David Slater)
Monkey does not own rights to selfie
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A macaque monkey who took now-famous selfie photographs cannot be declared the copyright owner of the photos. That is what a federal judge has ruled.
 
U.S. District Judge William Orrick made the ruling in San Francisco.
 
The lawsuit was filed last year by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.  It sought a court order allowing PETA to represent the monkey.  PETA wanted the court to let it administer all proceeds from the photos for the benefit of the monkey, 6-year-old Naruto. It also would go to other crested macaques living in a reserve. They live on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
 
The photos were taken during a 2011 trip to Sulawesi. An unattended camera was used to snap the images. The camera is owned by British nature photographer David Slater.  He asked the court to dismiss the case. Slater said the British copyright obtained for the photos by his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., should be honored worldwide.
 
PETA sued Slater and his San Francisco-based self-publishing company Blurb.  The company published a book called "Wildlife Personalities." The book includes the "monkey selfie" photos.
 
The photos have been widely distributed elsewhere. The distributing outlets include Wikipedia.  Those outlets contend that no one owns the copyright to the images.  They say that's because they were taken by an animal, not a person.
 
In court documents, Slater described himself as a nature photographer.  He said he is deeply concerned about animal welfare.  He said it should up to the U.S. Congress and not a federal court to decide whether copyright law applies to animals.
 
Jeff Kerr is general counsel for PETA.  The organization will continue fighting for the monkey's rights, he said.
 
"Despite this setback, legal history was made today," Kerr said. "Because we argued to a federal court why Naruto should be the owner of the copyright rather than being seen as a piece of property himself.  This case is also exposing the hypocrisy of those who exploit animals for their own gain."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did it matter who owned the rights to the photo?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (122)
  • colek-1-bar
    1/12/2016 - 08:14 p.m.

    It mattered who owned the rights to the photo because the PETA fought that the monkey Naruto should have the rights, not the people who sold the pictures. The PETA fight for the right of Naruto’s photos saying that “Naruto should be the owner of the copyright rather than being seen as a piece of property himself.” (paragraph 9). This reveals that PETA wants the photos to be free on the internet and not be sold for personal prophet. They argued in court that Naruto should have the right to the pictures, not the photographers. The opposition side said that animals cannot have rights to pictures. The court sided with the opposition, which angered the PETA organization. That is why the rights of the photo are so important. I thought this article was interesting and was surprised when the monkey took the selfie, the arguments were so big it was took to Congress.

  • brandonw-1-har
    1/13/2016 - 07:39 a.m.

    It mattered who owned the rights for this photo because whoever owns this selfie can get a lot of money. You get a lot of money from this photo because copyright.

  • brandonw-1-har
    1/13/2016 - 07:42 a.m.

    It mattered who owned the rights for this photo because whoever owns this selfie can get a lot of money. You get a lot of money from this photo because of copyright.

  • scottb-
    1/13/2016 - 09:56 a.m.

    This is a interesting story. I wonder where the photographer left the camera that took the picture? I wonder what kind of monkey this is. I like monkeys. If I ever become rich,I will have a monkey room to keep my pet monkeys. Too bad he doesn't have those rights. Oh well.

  • kateh5600-612-
    1/13/2016 - 11:15 a.m.

    It mattered who owned the photo because some people felt that, saying it didn't belong to Naruto was unfair since, it was making him "seem like a piece of property himself". The article also says that saying Naruto was not the owner of the photo was something that people "who exploit animals for their own gain" would do.

  • tomarrowm-bog
    1/13/2016 - 11:45 a.m.

    They should never take pictures.:I

  • mauryg-612-
    1/13/2016 - 11:53 a.m.

    I don't think it should matter who owned the rights to the photo it's just something to look at laugh at no matter who has rights to it. Think it's just crazy that PETA sued David Slater because it's not like he wanted it to happen it's just a funny mistake.

  • samanthas-1-ste
    1/13/2016 - 01:10 p.m.

    The only reason the rights mattered in this case was because of the court. The animal is not technically responsible for a photo considering it is a wild animal.

  • skylarm-612-
    1/13/2016 - 03:09 p.m.

    The people didn't want the monkey to have it and they also didn't want to give it to anyone they didn't even want to keep it they thought it was copyright and they also sued the person who was there with the camera when the monkey had taken a "selfie".

  • lyrics-612-
    1/13/2016 - 03:15 p.m.

    It mattered because they wanted to see who took the photos and who was responsible for them.

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