Federal Court to Rule on Whether Monkey Owns Copyright to Its Viral Selfie

Famous photo taken by macaque on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in 2011.

July 13, 2017 9:40 am
U.S. Court
(Self-portrait by the depicted Macaca nigra female licensed under Public Domain via Commons)

A federal appeals court is set to rule on whether monkeying around is copyright-able.

According to the Associated Press, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco held a 45-minute hearing on whether a now-internet-famous Naruto, a crested black macaque monkey from Indonesia, owns the copyright to its über-viral, camera-pilfered selfie. The camera used for the infamous selfie had been set up by British nature photographer David Slater, who claimed the copyright for the image.

PETA then sued Slater and an S.F.-based self-publishing company for copyright infringement, after the photographer published a book that included the monkey’s selfie. The rights group argued that the copyright and money earned from the book should be the monkey’s not Slater’s.

As the AP notes, in 2016, a federal judge ruled against PETA and the monkey, saying the animal rights group did not “have the right to sue because there was no indication that Congress intended to extend copyright protection to animals.”

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