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Court: Copyright suit not allowed for selfie-taking monkey

Court: Copyright suit not allowed for selfie-taking monkeyā€¯

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 decided to make a ruling anyway. 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. Without surprise, the monkey selfie went viral on the internet that year. It remains unclear what claims PETA purported to be "settling", since the court was under the impression this lawsuit was about Naruto's claims, and per PETA's motion, Naruto was "not a party to the settlement", nor were Naruto's claims settled therein.

That precedent is now established: humans can file copyright lawsuits, not animals. "We gravely doubt that PETA can validly assert "next friend" status to represent claims made for the monkey", it said, in its ruling.

The case was brought in a US court because Slater's book was available for sale in the United States. 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. PETA then appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit. In a joint statement they said the case "raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for nonhuman animals" and that Slater would donate 25 percent of future gross revenues from the photographs to charitable organizations that protect the macaque habitat. Orrick ruled past year that, under Ninth Circuit case law, animals do not have legal standing to bring lawsuits unless expressly provided for by statute.

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.

Monday's ruling will not affect the settlement, according to Kerr.

Their opinion added that the group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which filed as a plaintiff on behalf of Naruto, was not a "next friend" of the monkey in a legal sense and failed to establish that it had a significant relationship with him.

Fox News' Bill Mears and the Associated Press contributed to this article.



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