Federal Appeals Court rules that a Monkey cannot copyright his own selfies



A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that a monkey cannot sue for copyright infringement over the unauthorized use of selfies that the animal snapped himself. We know you were wondering about this very thing. In the ruling, Judge Carlos Bea wrote for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that "We conclude that this monkey — and all animals, since they are not human — lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act."

The back story is interesting. It seems that in 2011, nature photographer David Slater had setup his camera in the Indonesian forest to take pictures of a monkey named Naruto. Somehow, in the photographer's absence, the animal set off the camera's shutter creating what animal rights organization PETA calls a series of "selfies." PETA sued Slater when the photographer sold some of the photos of Naruto that the monkey snapped himself. PETA's argument was that Naruto took the pictures himself, creating "original works of authorship." This first suit was tossed out by the judge, who wrote in his decision, "Monkey see, monkey sue is not good law." More specifically, the court ruled that a monkey does not have standing to sue over copyright infringement.

PETA appealed and argued that the U.S. copyright laws do not specify that a work's creator has to be human. 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.


The court stripped down PETA in its decision, stating in a footnote that PETA "seems to employ Naruto as an unwitting pawn in its ideological goals." In a statement, PETA's general counsel, Jeff Kerr, complained that Naruto was discriminated against because "he’s a nonhuman animal." Kerr added that the ruling applies only to the copyright laws and that non-human animals can still bring a case to federal court if they have "been wronged."

And now you know.

source: HuffingtonPost, CNN

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12 Comments

1. surethom

Posts: 1712; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Thank goodness common sense prevails PETA were just hoping they would get most of the money "for the monkey".

2. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Yup PETA has nothing to do with animal rescue and such and all about their own wallets. They should sue PETA for wasting everybody's time

3. ReticentHamster

Posts: 155; Member since: Jan 19, 2015

I don't see any difference between that picture and all the other 13 year old 'monkeys' constantly taking selfies. In seriousness though, are we really putting forth actual effort, like real actual energy that could be used for productive means, to argue that a monkey was "discriminated against"...? All over the world, actual crimes and tragedies are occurring, and these people are fighting over a monkey's "Rights." Just Wow.

4. Nimbus

Posts: 442; Member since: Apr 02, 2018

Lol naruto and monkey see and monkey sue is not good law.I lol on these thing beside who kept that naruto name for that monkey?

5. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

First of all, who is PETA that sues people for animal over such trivial matter? Did the monkey appoint them as their safe keeper? The camera belongs to the photographer, therefore the picture belongs to him no matter who clicks it. The monkey did not ask permission for the camera, nor does it know what (s)he's done, nor does the monkey know how to delete his/her own pictures.

6. Podrick

Posts: 1285; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

Seriously, WTF? Lmao.

7. tallmatt81

Posts: 71; Member since: Dec 22, 2016

This world is going to s**t lately........

8. southernzombie

Posts: 357; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

PETA is basically a giant spoon strictly for stirring up the pot of crap.

9. tedkord

Posts: 17388; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

PETA should have been made to pay all the defense legal fees, the salaries of the judge and his staff for each day they were on the case, and a punitive fine for wasting the court's time with a frivolous case.

10. sissy246

Posts: 7124; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

PETA is a bunch of F-ing idiots. I agree, they should have to pay back all court costs.

11. truthbetold

Posts: 42; Member since: Oct 16, 2015

Hey, they also pestered Nintendo about all the "animal abuse" that happens in Pokemon. PETA have on numerous occasions shown that they have no interest in preserving wildlife, only their nice paychecks and tax exemptions.

12. tokuzumi

Posts: 1919; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

PETA, doing nothing to actually help animals, other than sue humans for trying to sell pictures.

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