Court rules monkey does not own copyright to selfie as only humans can take them
A court has dismissed a lawsuit that claimed a monkey who appeared in a selfie owned the copyright for the picture.
Three judges unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) against a UK-based photographer whose camera was used by a crested macaque to take the photos in 2011.
Peta's 2015 suit against wildlife photographer David Slater sought financial control of the photographs – including a now-famous selfie of the monkey grinning – for the benefit of the animal named Naruto.
However, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled US copyright law does not allow lawsuits that seek to give animals the rights to photographs or other original work.
Copyright infringement can only be claimed on behalf of humans, the court said.
Jeff Kerr, general counsel for Peta, said the group was reviewing the opinion and had not decided yet whether it would appeal.
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He said: 'Naruto should be considered the author and copyright owner, and he shouldn't be treated any differently from any other creator simply because he happens to not be human.'
The court ruled Mr Slater was entitled to lawyers' fees in the case and sent it back to the district court to determine the amount.
Mr Slater, 53, who lives in the United Kingdom, said the lawyers' fees were welcome after the case took a toll financially and emotionally – at one point he contemplated taking up dog walking or tennis coaching to make money.
"I was making no money from photography, which is a difficult industry to begin with," he added.
He declined to say how much money he has made from the monkey selfies, but called the revenue 'embarrassingly low'.