Monkey selfie copyright claim rejected as court favours humans over animals

Monkey selfie copyright claim rejected as court favours humans over animals

Based on controlling case law and the text of the U.S. Copyright Act, the court held Naruto, as a non-human animal, lacks standing to file this suit.

That outcome was no surprise. While a settlement might sound like a good thing when it comes to lawsuits, Judge Smith believes PETA settled before the Court of Appeals could hand down its verdict to protect itself from a "possible negative, precedential ruling".

And even though both sides reached a settlement (Slater will donate 25% of future income derived from the Naruto photos to protect habitats where monkeys like Naruto live), the 9th Circuit Court felt that this was an issue so important for the future of selfie ownership, that it chose to make a ruling anyway.

Under a settlement agreement reached previous year with PETA, Slater would retain the rights to the photos, but he would donate 25 percent of future revenue derived from the images to charities that protect Naruto and other crested macaque monkeys. But the court made a decision to weigh in, anyway. After their claim was dismissed, they appealed, but subsequently reached a settlement with Slater in September previous year.

The animal rights group PETA said Naruto should get a cut of the profits. A next friend's role is to assist someone, typically a child or another person with a disability, to navigate litigation - and the change raised the question of whether PETA was fit to step into that role on behalf of Naruto. PETA seems to employ Naruto as an unwitting pawn in its ideological goals.




The 9th Circuit's opinion - joined by Judge Eduardo C. Robreno, with Judge N.R. Smith concurring in part - rested on three main points: whether PETA's relationship with Naruto was significant enough to allow the organization to be his next friend, whether animals can legally bring a case in federal court, and whether they have standing under the Copyright Act.

PETA responded by saying that the monkey "is discriminated against simply because he's a nonhuman animal".

At the same time, Kerr said the decision would not affect the settlement. "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".

PETA appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit.

A federal appeals court settles some monkey business over an animal selfie.

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