'Monkey selfie' case: Photographer wins two-year legal fight against Peta

Published: September 13, 2017
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Lawyers for Slater argued his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd, owns worldwide commercial rights to the photos, including the selfie of the monkey’s toothy grin. PHOTO: David Slater

Lawyers for Slater argued his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd, owns worldwide commercial rights to the photos, including the selfie of the monkey’s toothy grin. PHOTO: David Slater

A photographer whose camera was used by a monkey to take a selfie has won a two-year legal fight against an animal rights group about copyright over the image, according to The Independent.

Naruto, a rare crested macaque monkey who lives in the Tangkoko Reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, picked up David Slater’s camera and snapped the now-famous photo in 2011.

Peta sued “on behalf” of the monkey in 2015, seeking financial control of the photographs for the benefit of Naruto.

Judges in the US deemed the monkey was ineligible to hold copyright over the image.

Lawyers for Slater argued his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd, owns worldwide commercial rights to the photos, including the selfie of the monkey’s toothy grin.

Under a compromise, Slater agreed to donate 25 per cent of any future revenue from the images to charities dedicated to protecting crested macaques in Indonesia. Lawyers representing Peta and Slater asked the US Court of Appeals to dismiss the case and throw out a lower-court decision that said animals cannot own copyrights.

US court rules selfie monkey can’t own photo copyright

“Peta and Slater agree that this case raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for non-human animals, a goal that they both support, and they will continue their respective work to achieve this goal,” Slater and Peta said in a joint statement.

US district judge William Orrick said in a ruling in favour of Slater last year that “while Congress and the president can extend the protection of law to animals as well as humans, there is no indication that they did so in the Copyright Act”.

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