Verdicts & Settlements

Photographer settles suit asserting monkey owned the copyright to his selfie

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Naruto/Wikimedia Commons.

A photographer who claimed he owned the copyright to a selfie snapped by a monkey has settled a suit brought on the macaque’s behalf by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

David Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of future gross revenue from the photo to charities dedicated to protecting monkey welfare and habitat in Indonesia, PETA says in a press release. The Washington Post, the New York Times, Courthouse News Service and the Associated Press covered the settlement.

The monkey, named Naruto, had picked up Slater’s unattended camera and began snapping photos in 2011 during the photographer’s three-day trip to an Indonesian forest.

The case was on appeal to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal judge ruled current copyright law does not extend copyright protection to animals. The U.S. Copyright Office previously announced that it won’t issue any copyrights to pictures taken by nonhumans.

It’s unclear how much money will be generated for monkey habitat. Wikimedia claims the photo is in the public domain because neither Naruto nor Slater own the copyright. Slater told the Guardian in July that he couldn’t afford to fly from England to San Francisco for an appellate hearing, to repair broken camera equipment or to pay the lawyer who was representing him.

Slater said he is trying to become a tennis coach and was thinking about dog walking to earn income.

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