Wales

Monkey selfie: Animal charity Peta challenges ruling

Monkey selfie Image copyright Wildlife Personalities/David J Slater

An animal charity has appealed against a court decision which ruled a monkey could not own the copyright to a selfie photograph it took.

A monkey took the image in the Indonesian jungle in 2011 when it picked up a camera owned by David Slater, of Monmouthshire.

In January, a US court ruled copyright protection could not be applied to the monkey.

But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the monkey should benefit.

The charity had argued a crested macaque monkey called Naruto should be the author and owner of the picture as he took it.

But Mr Slater said the monkey in his photograph was a female called Ella.

'Frivolous suit'

A court in San Francisco ruled in favour of Mr Slater, of Mathern, near Chepstow, who set up the camera and purposefully left it alone on a tripod so the animals would approach it.

Now, Peta has appealed against the decision, insisting that "in every practical (and definitional) sense, he [Naruto] is the 'author' of the works".

In its appeal papers, Peta states: "Had the monkey selfies been made by a human using Slater's unattended camera, that human would undisputedly be declared the author and copyright owner of the photographs.

"Nothing in the Copyright Act limits its application to human authors… protection under the Copyright Act does not depend on the humanity of the author, but on the originality of the work itself."

Image caption Mr Slater said it was "absolutely ridiculous" that a monkey could own the image

Peta said it would be the first time a non-human animal has been declared the owner of property, if the lawsuit succeeded.

"The fact that copyright ownership by an animal has not been previously asserted does not mean that such rights cannot be asserted," Peta said.

"[I]nsofar as the issue of non-human authorship has been considered by this court, it remains an open question. The only requirement articulated by this court so far is that the 'author' be of this world. And Naruto certainly meets that requirement."

Mr Slater said while the ongoing lawsuit was gaining him publicity, it was costing him money in lost sales of the image.

"It's nothing to do with the monkey, they [Peta] just care about the promotion," he said.

"They are going on the idea he [Naruto] owns the copyright, which is clearly absolutely ridiculous. They put me through the mill in California and that was thrown out, and they are continuing to spend huge amounts of donors' money on a frivolous suit."

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