One of the most ridiculous and the most famous cases is finally solved: no, monkeys can’t own the copyright to the photos they snapped accidentally. To remind you, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently refused to dismiss the case. It has now ruled that crested macaque named Naruto doesn’t have legal standing to file a copyright claim against photographer David Slater.
PETA filed a lawsuit against Slater in 2015, claiming that the monkey should own the copyright over the selfies it snapped with Slater’s camera. The legal battle has been ongoing for three years now, leaving the photographer in debt (and I can’t imagine the amount of stress he’s been through). Federal judge ruled in 2016 that the monkey can’t be the copyright owner. However, PETA decided to appeal the decision and the case went on.
In September 2017, it seemed that we would finally see the end of this ridiculous case: David Slater, PETA and Slater’s co-defendant Blurb reached a settlement. The photographer agreed to donate 25% of any future revenue from the famous selfies to charities that protect the habitats of crested macaques. But no, this was not the end. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused the settlement and made the official appellate decision.
The court ruled that the monkey had “constitutional standing but lacked statutory standing to claim copyright infringement of photographs known as the ‘Monkey Selfies.” The decision reads that “next-friend standing can’t apply to animals” and that allowing it “would violate the public policy behind next-friend standing.” In one of the footnotes, the court also adds that PETA “appears to have failed to live up to the title of ‘friend.’”
After this rule, PETA has the right to ask the court to re-hear the case en banc, or appeal further to the Supreme Court. As Ars Technica writes, neither of this is very likely considering the earlier settlement with Slater. But knowing how long this has been going on and how stubborn PETA was, nothing would surprise me.
If you’d like to read the court rule, you can do it here.
[via Ars Technica]