Naruto, the six-year old macaque monkey who literally shot to fame with his famous selfie will not get ownership of his photograph as per a federal court ruling in San Francisco. In what can be termed as the world’s most unusual copyright battle, the judge ruled that the monkey cannot be declared the copyright owner of the self-portraits.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick said “while Congress and the president can extend the protection of law to animals as well as humans, there is no indication that they did so in the Copyright Act,” reported Fox News.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of the simian.
“Naruto has the right to own and benefit from the copyright … in the same manner and to the same extent as any other author,” the suit said.
David Slater, his UK-based company Wildlife Personalities, and Blurb, Inc., a Delaware-based corporation which published and sold a book containing copies of the photos were all named in the lawsuit.
PETA filed the case on the monkey’s behalf because he could not, “due to inaccessibility and incapacity”. PETA also said that “The US Copyright Act grants copyright ownership of a ‘selfie’ to the ‘author’ of the photograph, and there’s nothing in the law limiting such ownership on the basis of species”.
Slater had earlier said that he was disappointed with the lawsuit and called it a publicity stunt. “I am sympathetic in my book for animals having rights to property in some circumstances, but in no way do I mean copyrights,” Slater said in an e-mail.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, Sulawesi crested macaques are critically endangered. In the last 25 years, their numbers decreased by about 90 percent in the last 25 years, mostly due to human encroachment.
(With inputs from Reuters)