This post’s headline, “The Year of the Monkey, “monkey business,” a “macaquery” of the courts — over the last few years, the monkey selfie case has elicited countless primate puns (we went bananas!) and interest in the unusual copyright case. Now that case will soon be dropped.
To refresh your memory (and covered here and here): At the heart of the case brought forward by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on behalf of the primate was who owned the selfies the macaque snapped using a photographer’s camera equipment — the macaque, Naruto, or the photographer, David Slater, PETA sued Slater and his self-publishing platform, Blurb, for copyright infringement.
In 2016, District Judge William Orrick ruled that the macaque does not own the intellectual property rights to the photos. According to Ars Technica at the time, Judge Orrick called PETA’s case a “stretch,” and that he planned to dismiss the case in an upcoming order.
Again per Ars’ reporting, PETA lawyers are now preparing to drop the case, per a legal filing with the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, and are asking the court to hold off on issuing a ruling on Naruto’s appeal — one, says Ars, that many believe was not going to go his way anyway.
Naruto, Slater and Blurb informed the court they are reaching an out-of-court settlement. Why now? Ars expertly explains:
“US law allows the ‘prevailing party’ in a copyright infringement action, whether they be the plaintiff or defendant, to seek legal fees and costs of the opposing side — but they’re not always guaranteed to be awarded. And during oral arguments in the case last month, a three-judge panel of the court of appeals eviscerated Naruto’s arguments.”
PETA’s significant litigation sum it has accumulated, says Ars, could potentially be reduced or forgiven under the settlement terms.