Monkeys can not own a copyright, judges rule in infamous monkey selfie lawsuit

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It's been about seven years since Ella, an Indonesian macaque monkey, snapped a picture of herself with a camera belonging to David Slater.

In 2015, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) attempted to represent as Naruto as a "next friend" and filed a lawsuit against Slater, claiming that the photographer violated Naruto's copyright of the photo. More specifically, the court ruled that a monkey does not have standing to sue over copyright infringement. A settlement was reached out of court in the case past year.

Following oral arguments, Slater and PETA announced in September they reached a settlement, under which Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of any future revenue from the images to charities dedicated to protecting crested macaques in Indonesia.

It was not clear how much the photograph has been worth to Slater, who previously said that fewer than 100 copies of his self-published book had been sold, despite the publicity.

The animal rights group PETA said Naruto should get a cut of the profits. "We conclude that this monkey-and all animals, since they are not human-lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act", Bea wrote.

Worse, the court said in a lengthy footnote: "We feel compelled to note that PETA's deficiencies in this regard go beyond its failure to plead a significant relationship with Naruto".

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PETA lost at a district court level and appealed to the ninth circuit. In it, they demanded the monkey to be declared the real owner of the images. It remains unclear what claims PETA purported to be "settling", since the court was under the impression this lawsuit was about Naruto's claims, and per PETA's motion, Naruto was "not a party to the settlement", nor were Naruto's claims settled therein.

The 9th Circuit also said refusing to dismiss the case "prevents the parties from manipulating" the precedent set by the judge.

Slater, in an email to The Washington Post, said he was "thoroughly delighted" with the outcome of the case and that attorneys' fees were granted.

"I can now, hopefully, relax a little and enjoy what I love - being with wildlife", Slater said.

Nevertheless, PETA still found a glimmer of victory in the 9th Circuit's ruling. "PETA will continue working until the last barrier falls and animals' fundamental rights are recognized under the law, including their rights as creators".

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