The story of the monkey that took a selfie and caused the great controversy of copyright

The story of the monkey that took a selfie and caused the great controversy of copyright

A monkey took a selfie in 2011 with a photographer’s camera. Who owns the image, the monkey or the photographer? This is the question we have been asking ourselves ever since. This is the case of the selfie taken by Naruto, a black macaque from Indonesia who pulled the trigger of the camera 7 years ago. Since almost then, a whole legal battle has been waged to find out who owns the rights.

The story began when Wikimedia, the foundation behind Wikipedia, used the image claiming that it had been taken by the monkey, so that by not being able to exercise its right to claim, it was free. Without knowing it, a legal war had been started over this simple nonsense (not for the owner of the camera, because he will lose his income for that photograph).

The photographer claims to have lost tens of thousands of dollars since the photograph was on Wikimedia

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization), later, was the one who sued the photographer for selling the photograph, and now it is also who has settled the issue, after the final judgment was known and the organization and David Slater reached an agreement. The judge, specifically, ruled that it was impossible for the primate to make it known if he wanted to collect gifts or not, so the rights do not belong to him.

The (surreal) story of a monkey who doesn’t care about his selfie rights

david slater selfie macaque naruto

Initially PETA’s lawsuit was dismissed (and rightly so; the topic should have stayed there), but the organization decided to appeal alleging that the law does not specify that the owner of a work does not have to be human. Now a judge has ruled that primates cannot own works, so the image rights become Slater’s.

The judge affirms that the macaque has the right to claim, but the rights until then don of David Slater

We have no idea if the animals want to own copyrights or open bank accounts to withhold their gifts from image sales, the judge stated in the ruling; (PETA) seems to employ Naruto as an involuntary pen in his ideological goals. The judge again insisted the PETA lawyer, who declared that there was discrimination because it was a non-human animal, stating that non-human animals have the constitutional right to take the case to court, so they can exercise it.

david slater selfie macaque naruto photography

The photographer, however, reached an out-of-court settlement declaring that donate 25% of all image income to the organization to support the macaque that brought him fame. PETA has the option to appeal, but everything indicates that this would not happen, especially since the judge had made it clear that PETA was not part of the agreement at any time, in addition to the fact that they were not taking it into account.

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