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World

Lawsuit Settled Over Rights to Monkey's Selfie Photo

A lower court ruled in the photographer's favor, saying that animals could not hold copyrights

Self-portrait of Naruto, a female Celebes crested macaque in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, who had picked up photographer David Slater's camera and photographed herself with it, photo: Wikimedia
3 months ago

SAN FRANCISCO – Attorneys announced a settlement Monday in a lawsuit over who owns the copyright to selfie photographs taken by a monkey before a federal appeals court could answer the novel legal question.

Under the deal, the photographer whose camera was used to take the photo agreed to donate 25 percent of any future revenue to charities dedicated to protecting crested macaques, lawyers for an animal-rights group said. They said they would seek to dismiss the case pending before the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued on behalf of the macaque monkey in 2015, seeking financial control of the photographs for the benefit of the monkey named Naruto.

Lawyers for the camera’s owner, nature photographer David Slater, argued that his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., owns worldwide commercial rights to the photos, including a now-famous selfie of the monkey’s toothy grin.

Slater argued that he engineered the photographs in 2008 by traveling to an Indonesia jungle, spending three days with a troupe of monkeys to gain their trust and deliberately making his camera accessible to the animals to take photographs.

A lower court ruled in the photographer’s favor, saying that animals could not hold copyrights. The 9th Circuit was considering PETA’s appeal.

The lawyers notified the appeals court on Aug. 4 that they were nearing a settlement and asked the 9th Circuit not to rule.

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