The Selfie Monkey Could Still Win Copyright, Long Live The Selfie Monkey

Lauren Duca | February 2, 2016 - 11:45 am

This is the selfie-loving monkey Naruto, perhaps you know her from the Internet?

Naruto took this pic of herself among others with photographer David Slater’s camera. Slater thinks he owns the photos because he owns the camera, and Naruto disagrees. (OK, fine, PETA disagrees on Naruto’s behalf.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 10.33.33 AM
CREDIT: David Slater (or Naruto?)/Wikimedia Commons

When the pictures first went up on Wikimedia Commons, Slater fought the site to take them down, claiming ownership. PETA responded by bringing suit and arguing that, as Sarah Jeong writes for Motherboard, “non-humans like Naruto, a Sulawesi crested macaque, are authors under the Copyright Act, and therefore they can sue for copyright infringement.”

There are a lot of tricky legal details that you should head over to Motherboard to read, but, basically: A judge has dismissed PETA’s case, and they have a second chance to sue for damages.

If successful, PETA plans to use the settlement to help save Naruto’s endangered species, the macaques, as well to improve quality of life for Naruto himself. According to Jeong, the monkey’s attorney has argued that a judgement in his client’s favor would be “a progressive step forward similar to women’s emancipation, or the liberation of the slaves.” Of course, that is either empowering or wildly offensive, depending on how you feel about animals.

Naruto did not immediately respond to request for comment.