SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — A federal appeals court panel ruled Monday against the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in a lawsuit claiming a monkey owned the copyright to a selfie photo.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard the appeal last year — a court hearing the attracted crowds of law students and curious citizens who often burst into laughter.
The federal judges also chuckled at times at the novelty of the case, which involves a monkey in another country that is unaware of the fuss.
Andrew Dhuey, attorney for British nature photographer David Slater, said “monkey see, monkey sue” is not good law under any federal act.
Naruto is a free-living crested macaque who snapped perfectly framed selfies in 2011 that would make even the Kardashians proud.
PETA sued Slater and the San Francisco-based self-publishing company Blurb, which published a book called “Wildlife Personalities” that includes the monkey selfies, for copyright infringement. It sought a court order in 2015 allowing it to administer all proceeds from the photos taken in a wildlife reserve in Sulawesi, Indonesia to benefit the monkey.
Slater claimed the British copyright for the photos obtained by his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., should be honored.
PETA attorney David Schwarz argued that Naruto was accustomed to cameras and took the selfies when he saw himself in the reflection of the lens.
A federal judge ruled against PETA and the monkey last year, saying he lacked the right to sue because there was no indication that Congress intended to extend copyright protection to animals.
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