Selfie-snapping monkey loses copyright infringement case (again)


The monkey, of course, did not start the fight.

But in 2015, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a US-based animal rights group, filed a suit on Naruto's behalf, claiming the photographer had infringed Naruto's copyright since the monkey had taken the picture himself.

That outcome was no surprise. The Ninth Circuit ruling upholds the decision of a federal judge to dismiss the case in 2016, which PETA appealed.

A United States appeals court sided with photographer David Slater in a years-long legal saga around a grinning photo of a black monkey that became an internet sensation in 2011. As part of the settlement, 25% of future proceeds from "any or all of the monkey selfies" will be donated to charities dedicated to protecting crested macaques in Indonesia. But the court chose to weigh in, anyway.

The judge said Mr Slater is entitled to lawyers' fees and sent the case back to a district court to determine the amount. The judges said PETA was using the animal as an "unwitting pawn" for their agenda.

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

In its ruling, the ninth circuit panel said that PETA had failed to meet the "significant relationship" requirement, and could not sue as Naruto's next friend. Instead, the court surmised PETA must have seen "the proverbial writing on the wall at oral argument", known it was going to lose, then tried to save itself from an unfavorable opinion by ending the appeal.

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Photographer David Slater has won his legal battle over that monkey selfie.

"It remains unclear what claims PETA purported to be 'settling, ' since the court was under the impression this lawsuit was about Naruto's claims".

"PETA apparently obtained something from the settlement with Slater, although not anything that would necessarily go to Naruto", the court wrote, proceeding to describe the agreement.

The 9th Circuit also said refusing to dismiss the case "prevents the parties from manipulating" the precedent set by the judge. "Were he capable of recognizing this abandonment, we wonder whether Naruto might initiate a 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.

In January 2016 a San Francisco Judge ruled that an animal can not claim copyrights for images.