PETA sues for 'selfie' copyright infringement on behalf on monkey

Slater says the British copyright he has for the images was lawfully obtained and should be honored.
By Harry Marcolis | Jul 17, 2017
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard an unusual case Wednesday when it took up the question of whether a wild crested macaque monkey named Naruto with a talent for snapping selfies can hold a copyright to the photos.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sued British nature photographer David Slater, who published Naruto's selfies in a book called 'Wildlife Personalities, for copyright infringement, according to CBS News. The group sought a judicial order allowing it to use all proceeds from the photos to benefit the monkey.

Slater says the British copyright he has for the images was lawfully obtained and should be honored.

A lower court ruled against PETA and Naruto last year, saying the monkey had no right to sue because Congress never intended that copyright protection be extended to non-humans.

Arguing that the word 'authorship' should be interpreted in its broadest sense, PETA attorney David Schwartz said that because Naruto is the creator of the photos and photos can be copyrighted, a legal outcome in favor of the monkey should be forthcoming.

But the three-judge panel also had questions about PETA's right to represent the monkey in court, saying that having sincere concern for the creature does not meet the legal standard required.

After the hearing, PETA's general counsel Jeff Kerr said the group wants to use money from the photographs to study monkeys and protect their habitats.

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