Monkey can't own the copyright to its famous selfie, appeals court rules

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Here's a snapshot of how this monkey business ended up in a federal appellate court: In 2011, photographer David Slater set up his camera in an Indonesian forest, and Naruto, a crested macaque, snapped some photos of himself.

After oral arguments, the lawsuit was settled out of court, with PETA and Slater reaching an agreement to end the litigation.

An appeals court in NY a year ago rejected a case involving two chimpanzees, saying there was no legal precedent for the animals being considered people, and their cognitive capabilities didn't mean they could be held legally accountable for their actions.

Under a settlement agreement reached past year with PETA, Slater would retain the rights to the photos, but he would donate 25 percent of future revenue derived from the images to charities that protect Naruto and other crested macaque monkeys.

It was not clear how much the photograph has been worth to Slater, who previously said that fewer than 100 copies of his self-published book had been sold, despite the publicity. The judge said the law reserved that power only for humans.

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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".

Lawyers then asked the 9th Circuit to dismiss the case and throw out Orrick's decision.

As Courthouse News points out, the three-judge panel's opinion does not address some of the case's potentially more far-reaching issues, such as whether or not a human can own copyrights of images made by animals or machines.

PETA appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit.

A federal appeals court settles some monkey business over an animal selfie.

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In a partial concurrence, Judge N. Randy Smith said the courts had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

Kerr said Monday the 9th Circuit ruling would not affect the settlement.

"It remains unclear what claims PETA purported to be 'settling, ' since the court was under the impression this lawsuit was about Naruto's claims". "Were he capable of recognizing this abandonment, we wonder whether Naruto might initiate an action for breach of confidential relationship against his (former) next friend, PETA, for its failure to pursue his interests before its own".

"I was making no money from photography, which is a hard industry to begin with", Slater, 53, said.

PETA appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit.

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