Monkey snap copyright spat settled
Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 13 September 2017« Return to Reading Room
Photographer David Slater was surprised that monkey Naruto had taken such a perfect selfie snap on his camera whilst in the Indonesian jungle in 2011.
Whilst he was surprised, it was what he had hope for when received the trust in the monkeys and left his camera in the prime spot for them to snap away.
What he did not expect, however, was the legal battle that was to last two years and all rested on one question, can a monkey be a copyright work author?
The case was originally brought by PETA (the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) on behalf of Naruto stating that the proceeds of the photo, which had gone viral and had been used by many sources, should be given to preserve the monkey’s home.
Slater filed a motion to dismiss the claim, stating that animals cannot be owners of copyright protection.
The US court rejected PETA’s claim, but PETA appealed the claim up to the US Court of Appeal who were to determine if animals could be the owners of copyright.
Slater argued that he engineered the photographs by placing the camera on a tripod after gaining the trust of the monkeys, deliberately making it easier for the monkeys to get snap happy.
In a bid to end the saga, Slater and PETA came to a settlement after filing a motion to dismiss the claim to the US Court of Appeal.
As part of the settlement, 25% of future proceeds from any monkey selfies were to be donated to protect Naruto and his fellow crested macaques in Indonesia.
While the case didn’t give a definite answer to the question, it seems for now animals will not be asserting their copyright protection in court.
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