The Year of the Monkey Selfie Decision

The Year of the Monkey Selfie Decision

In 2014, we posted twice on the ongoing copyright case involving Wikimedia, a photographer and a series of macaque selfies. 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? It’s fitting that during the Year of the Monkey we have another update.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick ruled that the macaque does not own the intellectual property rights to the photos. According to Ars Technica, Judge Orrick called PETA’s case a “stretch,” and that he planned to dismiss the case in an upcoming order — one which PETA may be allowed to amend. From the bench, Judge Orrick was quoted as saying:

“I’m not the person to weigh into this. This is an issue for Congress and the president. If they think animals should have the right of copyright they’re free, I think, under the Constitution, to do that.”

A commenter on NPR’s coverage of the development cleverly said that PETA was trying to make a “macaquery” of the courts. Back in 2014, one of our own commenters said, “Technically copyright law says he who snapped the picture owns the rights.” So, not monkey business after all? We welcome your comments.


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