Monkey Naruto does not own the copyright to his selfie that he clicked on a wildlife photographer’s camera, ruled a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals on Monday.
In the year 2011, the crested macaque monkey, Naruto, approached a camera set up by photographer David Slater and somehow pressed the button. He clicked a selfie of himself in which he can be seen grinning. The selfie was an instant hit on the internet and it quickly went viral.
It was a US-based animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) which filed a case on the behalf of Naruto asserting that the copyright of the picture belonged to the monkey as he had clicked it.
PETA filed the suit in 2015 acting as Naruto’s “next friend,” a legal status reserved for someone who acts in court on behalf of another who is unable to do so.
It was already expected that the verdict will not come in PETA’s favour.
Last year, PETA reached a settlement with the photographer which required him to donate 25 percent of the earnings from the picture to charities that protect the habitat of macaque monkeys. Even though the organisation and the photographer had agreed on a settlement, the Appeals Court went on with the proceedings in the case.
The court also criticised PETA for dropping the case despite having presented itself as the monkey’s “next friend”. The court ruled that animals cannot bring copyright infringement suits adding that PETA had put its own goals ahead of the monkey’s despite its status as the animal’s “next friend.”