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Photographer who published the ‘monkey selfie’ agrees to donate some proceeds to charity

This case was bananas.


Josh Katzowitz

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 12, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 5:41 pm CDT

Though a federal judge made it clear that a macaque named Naruto doesn’t have the right to sue for a selfie he took six years ago, the monkey—or at least its breed—is still getting something out of the lawsuit.

As the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced on Tuesday, it reached a settlement with photographer David Slater to donate 25 percent of any future revenue he makes from the monkey selfie to charities that “protect the habitat of Naruto and other crested macaques in Indonesia.”

“PETA and David Slater agree that this case raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for nonhuman animals, a goal that they both support, and they will continue their respective work to achieve this goal,” the two sides said in a joint statement.

Naruto apparently picked up Slater’s unattended camera in the Indonesian jungle in 2011 and then took a picture of himself. After Slater published the photo in a book, PETA sued on behalf of the monkey and said Slater had infringed on Naruto’s copyright.

While Slater’s attorney said, “Naruto can’t benefit financially from his work. He is a monkey,” PETA argued that the Copyright Act limit didn’t only apply to humans. A federal district judge agreed with Slater, and PETA appealed the decision.

But the two reached a settlement agreement before the appeals court could rule.

As PETA claimed, the case was a way to initiate a discussion about the need to “extend fundamental rights to animals for their own sake—not in relation to the ways in which they can be exploited by humans.”

Now that this case has been settled, though, the world can focus on what’s sure to be the next copyright fight: What rights do robots have if they make a sex video?

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*First Published: Sep 12, 2017, 3:41 pm CDT