Indonesian Monkey Appeal Fails

Seven years ago, an Indonesian Macaque named Naruto took a “selfie” with the camera of a photographer. This unexpected situation led to an intellectual property dispute between a macaque and a photographer. On April 23, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stated in favor of the photographer.

In the first instance, the photographer (Mr. David Slater) asked the court to recognize his rights over the photo. The macaque was represented by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) who argued that animals, not to say “non-humans” can own IP rights. At this stage, the macaque was awarded a percentage of the future royalties for the photo.

The Monkey made an appeal, represented by the PETA. The question was not whether the monkey took the picture, but whether an animal is a legal person, and therefore able to own copyrights.
The US Federal Court of Appeal eventually ruled in favor of the photographer. The judges did not give an answer to the question whether an animal can hold copyright, and more over whether an animal has legal capacity. In fact, the Court has simply stated that the Monkey did not file the law suit himself, and as a consequence, he is not a defendant to the litigation. Thus, the question remains unanswered. [Source: Washington Post]

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